Yesterday’s moving ‘Glasgow Sees Syria’ candlelight vigil was one of many similar events held throughout Europe this weekend and attended by thousands to show solidarity for the plight of Syria’s refugees.
Despite reluctance by David Cameron’s government to welcome those desperately fleeing war-torn Syria and other conflicts, the people of Scotland and the Scottish Government have been vocal in their support of helping these refugees. Argyll & Bute Council leader Dick Walsh this week also expressed the Council’s support by agreeing to take in at least 20 refugees.
In a powerful speech at the Glasgow event, Scottish Government Minister for Europe and International Development, Humza Yousaf, countered the vitriol and disinformation coming from the right wing mainstream media, that the refugees were coming to our shores simply to take advantage of the UK’s benefits system.
“If anyone thinks that people would travel across the Mediterranean and risk their children’s lives for 35 quid and a foodbank voucher, forget living on another planet, you live in another universe and should be ashamed of yourselves”.
So how does the refugee crisis affect Argyll? Interestingly we could look at Germany. The country is welcoming some 800,000 refugees this year. Indeed, like Scotland and Argyll in particular, Germany has an ageing population and sees the refugees as a potential boon to its industry, commerce and public sector.
For example, a 2013 report states that there was a shortage of 2,600 general practitioners in Germany and rural areas were particularly affected. We have a similar situation in Argyll where we have seen surgeries amalgamating and, due to the shortage of full-time GP’s, an increased use of locums. The Royal College of GP’s recently reported that 500+ doctors would be needed in Scotland by 2020. 20% of the current GP workforce is over 55 and likely to retire in the next 5 years.
Refugees could indeed be the shot in the arm that Argyll needs while we could end their current suffering and provide hope for all our futures.
Recorded live coverage of the full event is available here.
Information on ways you can help can be found at…
Argyll Relief for Refugees (Facebook)
Argyll Relief JustGiving page to raise £500 for Calais refugees
Syria Refugee Help from Helensburgh, Dumbarton & Lomond Area (Facebook)
Scottish Refugee Council – How you can help
Positive Housing in Action – Host a refugee
Refugees welcome in Dalavich & Argyll and Bute – Petition
If you know of any additional refugee groups in Cowal and Argyll, please let us know.