On Samos, new arrivals set up camp where they can. Photo: Gemma Bird
On Samos, new arrivals set up camp where they can. Photo: Gemma Bird

Scotland’s First Minister calls for people living in refugee camps on the Greek Aegean Islands to be transferred to the United Kingdom by letter to the Home Office.

Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister of Scotland, urged the UK Government to “lead the way” in the immediate decongestion of refugee camps in the Greek Aegean Islands. In a letter to Home Secretary, Priti Patel, Sturgeon highlighted the risk to individual rights for asylum seekers on the Greek islands, in which a few 30,200 people are currently housed in camps with capacity for over 7000. The First Minister also emphasized Scotland’s history of welcoming refugees, writing”we stand ready to perform our role. . .and recommend you to have a humane and welcoming approach to the resettlement of these refugees on the Aegean islands.”

Inhabitants of the Greek island camps live for months or years in deplorable conditions where fundamental human rights are denied, such as access to shelter, education and adequate drinking water and sanitation. The majority of the people who arrive in the Aegean islands to seek refuge in Europe have left states which are at war and have been exposed to high levels of violence. Some are survivors of torture or have missing family members or friends.

In a statement in March this year, Stefano Argenziano, Medecins Sans Frontieres Operations Coordinator for Greece stated, “EU member states must address the real emergency: evacuate people from the islands to EU countries, provide an asylum system which works, and prevent trapping people in horrendous conditions.”

The First Minister’s letter follows a letter-writing campaign by grassroots movement Europe Must Act, who are calling for the move of asylum seekers from the Greek Coast camps and humane migration policy in Europe and the UK. Seven EMA teams across Scotland have lobbied their own councillors and MSPs to accept asylum seekers from these camps. 33 MSPs from four political parties have now signed a Scottish parliament movement in support of the effort set forward by John Finnie MSP of the Green Party.

Rebecca Morton, a spokesperson for Europe Must Act Scotland, stated, “We’re delighted that the First Minister has responded to our calls for Scottish leaders to intervene in this issue. We believe the UK is duty-bound to help in the evacuation of the camps it assisted to build via its membership of the EU and also to undo the hostile migration coverage it continues to support by financing an competitive, militarised border regime at the Aegean sea. We’ll then be urging MPs to put pressure on the united kingdom government to play its part in putting an end to the humanitarian crisis at Europe’s borders.”

 

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