The head of the Scottish government has said his government will take refugees from Gaza amid violent conflict in the region.
In a video message shared on X, First Minister Humza Yousaf said that “the people of Gaza and the people of Palestine” are “a very proud people and right to be proud.” He noted his wife, Nadia El-Nakla, is a Scottish-Palestinian.
“They’re proud of their culture. They’re proud of their country. They’re proud of their land,” said Yousaf. “So, many of them don’t want to leave and neither they should have to leave but for the million that have been displaced just in this current conflict, for those that want to leave, there should be a worldwide refugee scheme.”
Yousaf said Middle Eastern, Asian, and European countries as well as America should partner to develop a refugee resettlement program.
“Right across the [United Kingdom], many people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland opened their hearts, opened their homes to refugees from Ukraine, for refugees from Syria,” he continued. “We’re a generous country. Well, let’s show that generosity of spirit again for those that need to leave, that don’t have a home.”
“Let’s say that Scotland will be a place of sanctuary for them as we have shown that kindness and compassion for others,” urged Yousaf.
During an interview at the Scottish National Party’s annual conference on Oct. 3, Yousaf told Sky News he felt “powerless” to protect his family members who were stuck in Gaza. This includes his mother- and father-in-law as well as his brother-in-law. He shared a video message sent by his mother-in-law and called on Israel to “immediately” open humanitarian corridors.
“[It’s an] appeal to the international community, to set up international corridors, to end collective punishment, to allow supplies to come in, to allow the innocent people of Gaza to come out,” Yousaf said.
The First Minister continued:
What cannot happen, regardless of [Israel’s] military tactic, is for innocent men, women and children to pay the price. What has to happen now, immediately, today is the opening up of a humanitarian corridor.
The humanitarian corridor has to allow Gazans, innocent men, women and children to leave and has to allow supplies, medical supplies, food, fuel, clear drinking water to come in.
Collective punishment cannot be justified. Neither legally or morally can it be justified.
Yousaf, who took office in March, has also requested the United Kingdom assist in medical evacuations for injured civilians in Gaza.
While speaking at the Scottish National Party conference, El-Nakla denounced the UK for offering military support to Israel in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks.
“Israel has one of the strongest and most advanced armies in the world and I’m just not sure why they need more support,” she said, per Politico. “The U.K. is enabling the behavior of Israel, but gaslighting us at the same time.”
According to The Hill, Jordan and Egypt have both said they will not take Palestinian refugees.
The United Nation’s HRC reported in 2022 that there were 5.9 million Palestinian refugees living worldwide under a UNRWA mandate.