Response to Paris attacks

candles dark sombre

Scottish Refugee Council is deeply shocked and saddened by the events in Paris and Beirut over the last week.

We are also concerned by the reports emerging that some of those responsible for the attacks may have travelled through Greece alongside refugees seeking protection in Europe.

 But it’s crucial that we don’t confuse the men, women and children fleeing war and terrorism with the terrorists themselves. These kind of horrific acts of violence are precisely the types of things that refugees are fleeing.

Tomorrow afternoon, we are expecting the arrival of the first group of Syrians to be resettled in the UK under the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation scheme.

Speaking at Central Mosque in Glasgow today, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, said:

“I urge people not to let these terrorists win by dividing us and driving a wedge between the multi-cultural society Scotland is home to.

"We are stronger when united and that is one of our strengths.

"We are due to welcome Syrian refugees to Scotland tomorrow and we need to show that we are a country of compassion and acceptance.

"These people are fleeing their homes in the search for protection and security, and we are their refuge. We cannot let the actions of the few destroy the safety of the many."

The people being resettled in Scotland under the relocation scheme have suffered five years of civil war and violence in their home country. They are being brought to safety in the UK having been through multiple security checks.

But the UK also needs to offer safe and legal routes to allow more people to seek refugee protection.

A Syrian asylum seeker in Scotland who fled his country after witnessing massacres in his home town and receiving threats from ISIS said:

“No one wants to be a refugee but, for some, at a point in their lives, they have to be.

“My life before the Syrian civil war was fulfilled: it was fun, loving, rich, it was happy.

“My home town was one of the first to feel the fury of the regime. My home was bombarded. Hundreds were murdered or taken away to imprisonment, servitude, and torture by the regime. 

“All around me was destruction, fear, massacres. I had to make a decision, not a choice, to stay or to go. The only decision to take: death in Syria or life elsewhere.

“You all in Scotland must be resilient, in your solidarity with refugees, in your willingness to speak with and for them, in your ability to see the real child, woman, and man behind the 'refugee'."

EU President Jean-Claude Junker has warned that we should not mix up the attackers in Paris and Middle East refugees.