Scotland "willing to take fair share of refugees"

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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged the UK Government to recognise its international obligation to refugees and participate in the EU Commission's call for further resettlement of people fleeing Syria and Eritrea.

Speaking in Brussels last night the First Minister said that "Scotland is willing to take our fair share of refugees".

The European Commission set out proposals for member states to resettle 20,000 refugees in need of protection, in response to the increasing numbers of people risking their lives to reach Europe by sea.

But the UK government has rejected EU calls to resettle refugees under the new proposals.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson used the first Prime Minister's Questions of the new Parliament to raise the issue of the Mediterranean crisis in the Commons this morning.

Mr Robertson said:

“It is a stain on the conscience of Europe that thousands and thousands of refugees have been drowning in the Mediterranean when we could have saved lives.

“80 years ago the UK earned a reputation for accepting those who needed asylum and refuge like the Jewish children of the Kindertransport.
 
“Now in contrast, the UK has an appalling record on displaced civilians from the war in Syria and is not prepared to cooperate with European nations on accepting refugees rescued in the Mediterranean.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy at Scottish Refugee Council said:

"Scottish Refugee Council welcomes the First Minister's statement and the SNP’s first intervention at Prime Minister’s Questions today to push David Cameron to show leadership within the EU on this serious issue. The Prime Minister  must ensure that saving lives is the priority of any response to this crisis in the Mediterranen.

The UK needs to resettle significantly more refugees as outlined by the EU Commission and create other safe and legal routes for refugees to access protection, including making it much easier for people to be reunited with family members already in the UK."

The UK has resettled less than 200 Syrian refugees since 2011. By contrast, in 2014 alone, Germany committed to resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees and received 40,000 asylum applications from Syrians.

We are working with the British Refugee Council to ask supporters to write to their MPs to call on the Prime Minister to protect refugees in the Mediterranean. Ask your MP to call on David Cameron to act.