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Highland Green MSP John Finnie agrees, 'Europe Must Act', after adding voice to local campaign group 'Highland Must Act' by lodging motion in Scottish Parliament

By Ali Morrison

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Green MSP John Finnie....Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 041864.
Green MSP John Finnie....Picture: Callum Mackay. Image No. 041864.

A HIGHLAND campaign group has won the backing of a local MSP in the call for more refugees to be homed in the region – amid concerns over cramped refugee camps in the Aegean.

Highland & Islands MSP, John Finnie, has recently lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament in an effort to support the aims of local campaign group 'Highland Must Act'.

The Green MSP has also written to the Home Office to highlight the aims of the group which focus on the urgent decongestion of Aegean Island refugee camps and allowing councils across Europe to offer refuge to inhabitants of these camps as an immediate emergency measure.

Highland Must Act campaigners call on the general public to write to their MSP's who can support the motion and lobby both the UK government and UNHCR.

Europe Must Act calls for councils across Europe to pledge to take in refugees who are currently stranded on Aegean Island refugee camps.

Basic human rights are being denied, including access to shelter, education and drinking water. The motion, lodged by John Finnie of the Scottish Green Party, titled "Relief for Refugees Held on the Aegean Islands", has already received support from 10 MSPs.

Highland Chapter campaigners hope that support continues to climb to a level which will mandate discussion on this matter, escalating the issue to UK and European levels. Europe Must Act aims are as follow:

  • To immediately decongest the Aegean Islands through fair relocation across Member States
  • To replace the EU-Turkey Agreement with a fair and humane EU policy on migration
  • To advocate for dignified and legal conditions of reception across Europe

In his motion in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Finnie urged the Scottish Government to call on the UK government to assist in the urgent resettlement of refugees held on the Aegean islands.

He also asked that the UK government also allows Scottish local authorities to take people held in those camps, and supports the right to family reunification in the UK for unaccompanied minors.

Franci Hutchison, of Highland Must Act, welcomed Mr Finnie's support. Franci said: “We are delighted to have the support of John Finnie and appreciate his efforts in escalating our concerns. John has set a great example for politicians to stand up for refugees whose human rights are being denied.

"Conditions in the camps are comparable by definition to that of concentration camps. We cannot ignore the ongoing human suffering at Europe's borders.

"Other supporters of our campaign include MP Drew Hendry and six Highlands and Islands councillors. We hope that MSPs throughout Scotland, across the political spectrum, will support the motion John has submitted”

They also urged the public to sign and share the Highland Must Act petition addressed to Highland Council leaders to show support. It is located at www.change.org/highlands-must-act.

For more information on the campaign visit the Facebook page, "The Highlands Support Refugees", a charity partnered with Europe Must Act.

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