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Welcoming refugees with open arms

On World Refugee Day, our Campaigns Officer Thomas Mulvey reflects on the positive contribution immigrants make to Scotland, and reminds us to welcome refugees with open arms.

Scotland is a nation of immigrants and emigrants; our forebears fled famine in Ireland, destitution in the Highlands, and war and persecution on the continent. They came with few possessions, in search of sanctuary for themselves and their families.

Their toil in the coalfields of the central belt powered a nation, the steel they crafted in Lanarkshire powered the economy and their work on the docks of the Clyde led the world. Their legacy is visible in Scotland through the infrastructure they built and the institutions they founded.

Today, our public services rely on the contribution of those who were not born here but who have chosen to make Scotland their home.

As a nation Scotland has always been international in outlook. At SCIAF, we couldn’t provide the lifesaving support to Rohingya and Syrian refugees without the generosity of ordinary Scots.

Time and time again, you show that solidarity does not stop at borders and is blind to race, creed and class. Let’s always remember to be generous in spirit and material support to refugees who have journeyed across continents to arrive in Scotland. 

Lebanon 2

War, famine, poverty and natural disasters - there are many reasons why people are forced to flee for their lives. We should reject any call to meet refugees with a “hostile environment” and welcome them with open arms.

In one of the first acts of his papacy Pope Francis visited the Italian island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean, where thousands of migrants have drowned in a desperate attempt to find sanctuary in Europe, and offered his solidarity.

The Pope has refused to ignore the plight of migrants and refugees, making migration and the treatment of vulnerable people a defining issue of his Papacy.  He has asked us to care for migrants and to embrace those who have left their homes by creating a “culture of encounter” that welcomes all and demonstrates our solidarity through action.

Inspired by the Pope Francis’ call to action to help migrants and refugees, SCIAF undertake to ’Share the Journey’ by helping our brothers and sisters fleeing conflict, natural disaster, persecution and poverty.

We invite you to join us and embrace those who have newly arrived on our shores.  We ask that you share the journey and welcome our brothers and sisters, helping them settle and build new lives in Scotland as so many others before have.

Photographs of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon taken by Jane Barlow, Press Assoociaton in 2016.