We have a moral obligation to offer a place of safety’

By Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister of Scotland

I AM sure I was far from the only person reduced to tears at the picture of a little boy washed up on a beach.

That wee boy – named as three-year-old Alan Kurdi – has touched our hearts, but his is not an isolated tragedy. He, and thousands like him whose lives are at risk, is not somebody else’s responsibility, they are the responsibility of us all.

So, I am very angry – and deeply saddened – at the “walk on by on the other side” approach of the UK Government. I also strongly object to the use of the term migrant in these circumstances. These people are not economic migrants – they are refugees fleeing conflict. There is a responsibility on all politicians to choose their words carefully.

And the remarks yesterday of the Chancellor George Osborne – in direct response to those images of the young boy washed ashore in Turkey – that the UK has always been a welcoming home for “real asylum seekers” and “genuine refugees” simply underline how far the UK Government has to go to recognise the reality of this situation.

The scale of such a humanitarian emergency is immense but it is not insurmountable. Of course we need long-term, co-ordinated action to tackle the causes of this crisis – but this cannot be a substitute for an immediate humanitarian response.

As this crisis unfolds, David Cameron is looking increasingly isolated both at home and abroad. In a conflict that has produced over 4 million refugees, the UK Government has taken just 216 refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. This is derisory, especially when you consider the numbers that other countries across the EU are taking.

But I am heartened by the growing calls from people across Scotland and across the UK for more to be done. Today I will be hosting a cross-party round-table with refugee charities and representatives from across civic Scotland. Today’s summit allows us to discuss what more the Scottish Government – and civic Scotland – can do to help those in need. As part of this, we will consider how many refugees that Scotland is able to accommodate. I regard suggestions of around 1,000 as a bare minimum, and am keen to hear what more we can do.

However, until David Cameron reconsiders the current response of the UK Government, there is a limit to what we in Scotland are able to do.

So we will also consider what actions the UK Government needs to take to enable us to play our part.

We, with our neighbours and friends across the EU, have a moral obligation to offer a place of safety to these desperate people fleeing conflict and persecution. We can start by participating in the initial EU proposals on relocation and refugee resettlement. The UK must take a proportionate share of people fleeing conflict and persecution.

I implore David Cameron to change his position and change it today, and I pledge as First Minister of this country that we stand ready to help offer sanctuary to refugees who need our help.

‘Our country has a proud history of sheltering refugees’

By Kezia Dugdale

Scottish Labour Leader

NO ONE could fail to be affected by the picture that appeared on the front page of The National, and so many other newspapers, yesterday.

Alan Kurdi’s father said the boy “slipped through [his] hands”. The tragic thing is that this father’s story has been repeated throughout the summer with men and women losing children as they flee from war and persecution in Syria.

People across Scotland have watched with disgust and shame as children have died this summer. Our country has a proud history of sheltering refugees. From the boat people fleeing the Vietnam war to Jewish children escaping the Holocaust in the Kindertransport, we have always let people find sanctuary in our country.

That is why David Cameron has to change his approach. We have to agree to take more refugees at the same time as continuing our work to bring peace and stability to the Middle East.

And I want to match my words with actions. That is why yesterday I asked Scottish Labour members across the country to mobilise their campaign resources to win change and to welcome those fleeing conflict to our communities.

We need to muster all the support we can for aid collections that are headed to Calais. We need to put pressure on the Prime Minister to see that a majority of Scots want to help people fleeing war. And we urgently need to bring together our local authorities for them to say how many refugees they can take.

It’s very easy to offer warm words, but I want to offer practical help and win political change, and keep with the best traditions of Scotland and the UK by welcoming people fleeing for their lives.

‘We cannot stand by and leave this to others’

By Willie Rennie

Scottish LibDem Leader

THE picture of a young child, drowned as he made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean with his family, shames those who would say that we have no responsibility to help those fleeing conflict and war.

The situation facing refugees from Syria and elsewhere is desperate. They know the risks, but still they come. Last month, the new leader of the UK Liberal Democrats Tim Farron and I met with Amnesty International and the Scottish Refugee Council to discuss the crisis. They set out the scale of the challenge that we are facing clearly.

We cannot stand by and leave this to others. We must not allow those who would close our borders to win this argument. I am pleased Nicola Sturgeon will lead a summit today to look at what we can do in Scotland to help. I stand with her and all those calling on the UK Government to work with our EU partners on this crisis.

The response from the UK Government to the catastrophe has been inadequate. The time for action is now.

‘We’ve got to do more closer to home’

By Ruth Davidson

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives

We asked Ruth Davidson to write a piece. We were told she was too busy but they sent us this comment.

I believe the UK has always shouldered its burden in the world. It’s not an immigration issue it’s a humanitarian crisis. We’ve got to do more closer to home and work with our European partners. There is work to do and I want the Prime Minister to lead that.

We must do more: Sturgeon attacks Cameron after he refuses to join EU sanctuary plan

First Minister fights back tears in debate over refugee crisis

Journey home for the boy who broke the world’s heart

We’re all full of fear — Hungarian PM

Events to help desperate lives

What you can do

Patrick Harvie: The human story behind the stats is finally heard

The National View: One child’s death shows it’s time to say enough suffering ... #refugeeswelcome