For decades, UK Governments have treated refugees and people seeking protection as a problem.
The result is a fractured protection system which treats people differently based on how they arrived in this country and which conflict they fled. For people going through the asylum system, waits for a decision on their claim can be months or years long, while they are trapped in poverty without the right to work. Too many people evacuated from Afghanistan are still living with their families in cramped hotel rooms. We can’t accept this.
Nicola Sturgeon recently said that her dream is a Scotland in which every New Scot is welcomed. There are steps we can take through Scotland’s devolved powers to make that dream more of a reality for everybody seeking protection in Scotland.
Across nearly every Scottish Government department, from criminal justice to health, housing to transport, there is much more we could do to protect and support the integration of all refugees and people on low incomes during this cost-of-living emergency. Steps like making bus travel more affordable for people seeking protection would make a huge difference to people’s lives and are achievable.
There are meaningful actions Scotland can take to make sure that people seeking safety here are welcomed, valued and respected. We know that Scotland wants to welcome refugees. It’s time to take action to make that wish a reality.
We can’t rely on Westminster to act. It’s time to have a real conversation about what Scotland can do now to make life better for everyone seeking protection here, no matter the conflict they fled or the route they took to sanctuary.
Join the conversation about what Scotland needs to do by adding your name to our statement.
This post was originally published on Scottish Refugee Council.