Anne McTaggart MSP Speaks in Refugee Crisis Debate

“I thank James Dornan for securing the time in the chamber to debate what has become Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the second world war. The whole country is moved by this on-going crisis. People are taking desperate measures to cross the Mediterranean from places such as Syria and Libya, and more than 2,700 lives have been lost so far this year in unsuccessful missions to reach Europe in order to seek asylum or refuge.

“I am proud that residents in my region, Glasgow, are doing what they can to help. Glasgow has the largest population of asylum seekers outside London. Glasgow’s record on providing refuge is the result of the great work of charities and other organisations across the city and of Glasgow City Council.

“As I mentioned in the debate that we had a couple of weeks ago, Glasgow City Council has provided homes to 55 Syrians who have fled the war in their home country. It has also agreed to take in more and outlined its belief that that is the right thing to do. I was delighted to see the success of the Glasgow sees Syria event in George Square, which included drop-off points for food donations from members of the public, and to hear the council’s leader, Frank McAveety, call on the Government to accept more refugees. The University of Glasgow is also to be congratulated on introducing a series of measures to support refugee students, including fee waivers and the extension of its talent scholarship scheme to support refugee undergraduate and postgraduate students.

“However, we need to do more. We need to do more as UK citizens and as European citizens. The European Union was founded on the values of respect for human dignity and the protection of human rights. Therefore, we need to establish an agreement between the European member states and take more positive measures to tackle the crisis of people putting their lives at risk to get to Europe. We also need to address the plight of those who are suffering in Calais and those who are displaced in their own countries.

“Earlier this week, the President of the European Council spoke at the UN General Assembly to give reassurance that Europe is as committed to its values and objectives now as it has ever been. Every one of us needs to ensure that we are committed to those values and objectives as members of the European Union.

“However, the issue is a shared responsibility among all states, as no single country can solve a crisis of this scale. The responsibility to solve the crisis does not lie just with Europe. It is a global crisis that requires a global response. The international community must come together to provide a global response to the on-going refugee crisis, as we cannot turn our backs on people who are seeking refuge from war in their home countries.”

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