Celebrating 30 years of refugee protection in Scotland

Glasgow City Chambers. (c) Glasgow City Council

Scottish Refugee Council kicks off its 30th anniversary year with a debate about the future of refugee protection in Scotland. Speakers include Minister for Europe and International Development Humza Yousaf, former Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine and UNHCR UK representative Gonzalo Vargas Llosa.

The country’s leading refugee charity will host the debate following its AGM in Glasgow City Chambers on Friday 16 January.

Recent UN figures show the number of refugees around the world is at its highest in nearly two decades, with around 16 million people fleeing their home countries in search of safety. Scottish Refugee Council’s debate will consider what role Scotland should play in supporting refugees, including those from Syria, and discuss the challenges and opportunities in post-referendum Scotland to continue to provide a place of sanctuary to people in need.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Europe and International Development, said:

“For 30 years the Scottish Refugee Council has been there to make a difference, and we are proud to support them in their work. We continue to press the UK Government to improve the experience of refugees, and we will work to secure more powers for Scotland to support our humanitarian efforts.

“Recent global events, such as the crisis in Syria, have demonstrated that now, more than ever, the world needs countries like Scotland to act with compassion as a good global citizen. Scotland has a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers, and when people turn to us for help, we want to be there.”

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said:

“2014 was a momentous year for Scotland but it was also a year that saw millions of people flee their homes in a desperate attempt to save their own and their children’s lives. Sadly, this trend looks likely to continue into 2015.

“Scotland has offered protection and the chance of a safe and dignified life to refugees fleeing torture, terror and persecution from all corners of the world for many decades. As Scottish Refugee Council celebrates its 30th anniversary this year we hope to build on the energy that people brought to the debate about the future of Scotland, and collectively push for a better, fairer, more humane approach to asylum in an increasingly interconnected world. The situation facing refugees around the world has never been more dire or more critical. We cannot afford not to face up to dealing collectively with the humanitarian problems that come from displacement.”

Scottish Refugee Council public meeting and AGM will take place on:

 Friday 16 January 2015, 1-4pm,

Satinwood Suite, Glasgow City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow G2 1DU

Speaker biographies:

Humza Yousaf MSP is Scottish Government Minister for Europe and International Development. He was a Parliamentary Liaison Officer to former First Minister Alex Salmond MSP and was appointed Minister for External Affairs and International Development in September 2012.

John Vine CBE QPM is the former Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (http://icinspector.independent.gov.uk). He was appointed to his post by the Home Secretary in 2008 and stepped down on 31 December 2014. Previously he was Chief Constable of Tayside Police in Scotland from 2000 to 2008.

Gonzalo Vargas Llosa is UK representative for UN High Commissioner for Refugees (www.unhcr.org). He was previously UN chief of mission in the Dominican Republic.

Eli Ziai is a volunteer Peer Educator at Scottish Refugee Council. She is also an ESOL class mentor at Glasgow City College and volunteer team leader for Venture Scotland.