Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf says UK should offer sanctuary for Gaza refugees

SNP leader says world must step up to help one million displaced people

Humza Yousaf condemns 'collective punishment' in Gaza

Humza Yousaf condemns 'collective punishment' in Gaza
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Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf has called on the international community to establish a refugee programme for those fleeing violence in Gaza.

Mr Yousaf, in an address to his party's annual conference, said Scotland would offer sanctuary to people who arrived in the UK as refugees.

The First Minister said there were currently one million people displaced within the Gaza Strip, after Israeli warnings to leave ahead of an expected ground invasion.

Mr Yousaf’s in-laws Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla are in Gaza. His wife’s cousin has also been injured by shrapnel.

“I am calling on the UK government to take two urgent steps”, he said.

“Firstly, they should immediately begin work on the creation of a refugee resettlement scheme for those in Gaza who want to and are able to, leave.

“And when they do so, Scotland is willing to be the first country in the UK to offer safety and sanctuary to those caught up in these terrible attacks.”

The SNP leader also urged the Israeli government not to use “collective punishment” against the Palestinian people for the actions of Hamas, which he said “can never be justified”.

The First Minister, whose brother-in-law works as a doctor in Gaza, also called on the UK government to support the medical evacuation of injured civilians in the territory.

“When we can get through to him on the phone, he tells us of scenes of carnage.”

“Hospitals running out of medical supplies, doctors and nurses having to make the most difficult decision of all. Who to treat and who to leave to die. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“I therefore urge the UK Government to support the medical evacuation of injured civilians in Gaza.”

He said Scotland was “ready to play her part” and hospitals there would treat the injured “men, women and children of Gaza where we can”.,

The First Minister revealed last weekend that his wife’s family were trapped in Gaza after the Hamas attack on southern Israel.

The family had travelled to the country to visit Ms El-Nakla’s grandmother and her brother and his family.

Mr Yousaf spent the end of last week with both the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Scotland, telling members they are “communities I love”.

“I want you to know that as First Minister and as a fellow human being, I share the pain and sorrow you are feeling,” he said.

“I have attended your synagogues, your churches and your mosques. You are communities I have grown up with, danced with, laughed with, and in this last week, that I have shed many tears with.”

He said that there was “no room for anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or hatred” in Scotland and that everyone “must feel safe here”.

Updated: October 17, 2023, 6:24 PM