IT IS “not clear” how many Scottish residents are currently in Gaza amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, the External Affairs Secretary has said.

Angus Robertson told MSPs that the First Minister had raised the issue of the number of Scots who were currently in the region with the Prime Minister previously, but no figure had been given.

Addressing the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, Robertson said that the UK Government has an “idea” of the total number of British passport holders in Gaza, but as residency is not recorded, the number of Scots is not known.

Humza Yousaf’s parents-in-law are among those UK Citizens trapped in the region as the conflict between Hamas and Israel escalates.

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Neil Bibby, a Scottish Labour MSP, asked Robertson what dialogue the Scottish Government had had with the UK Government over the number of “UK nationals from Scotland” who were currently in Gaza.

He added: “What assessment can be made about their welfare just now and what more can be done to get a better understanding of the situation facing UK nationals from Scotland in the nation?”

“These are questions that were raised by the First Minister in discussion with the Prime Minister and I think at that stage the UK Government and the Foreign Commonwealth Office,” Robertson said.

“It was not clear at that stage how many Scots residents are among the UK contingent, or among UK passport holders currently in Gaza.

The National:

“I think the UK Government has an idea about the total number of UK passport holders in Gaza but because we don’t record residency as a matter of course, I think that’s the reason why there’s not a definitive answer to that question.”

On the UK Government’s efforts to assist British nationals in Gaza now that the Rafah crossing into Egypt has been opened, Robertson added that those who had been identified to the Foreign Office were being “updated”.

“I think this is complicated by the fact, as is being widely reported, telecommunications have been subject to interruption, and up until now because the Rafah border crossing has not been opened, people have been informed they are unable to leave,” Robertson said.

“Since yesterday there are the beginnings of lists being posted highlighting what nationals are able to leave on a day to day basis, so I have no doubt that the head of FCDO teams on the ground will be involved in the process of trying to inform people about how and when they are able to depart.

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“All complicated of course by the fact that whilst the Israeli military focus is largely in northern Gaza there are still air strikes and artillery rounds landing in Southern Gaza, which makes and will make the journey to Rafah also dangerous, so as soon as there’s any further update and I give a commitment to committee to take away, we can ask for an update now we have a change of circumstance with beginnings of people being able to leave.”

It emerged on Wednesday that UK citizens trapped in the Gaza Strip have been unable to leave the war-torn territory despite intensive diplomatic efforts to get them across the border to Egypt.

Hundreds of foreign passport holders have been able to get through the Rafah crossing for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war erupted.

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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly promised that UK teams would be ready to assist British nationals who are able to make the crossing.

But UK citizens trying to leave have been turned back, while the UK continues intensive diplomatic efforts to ensure they can make the journey from the war-torn territory to the safety of Egypt.

The UK Government has provided the Israeli and Egyptian authorities with a list of British nationals and their dependants and is pressing for them to be able to leave as soon as it is practically possible.

It is hoped by officials that the departure of British nationals from Gaza will take place in stages over the coming days.