SNP Councillor joins calls for Moray action over refugees

A Syrian refugee crosses razor-wire into Hungary
A Syrian refugee crosses razor-wire into Hungary

AN SNP COUNCILLOR has joined in calls for Moray to act in helping the plight of refugees escaping form war-torn regions of the Middle East.

Yesterday insideMoray revealed that Labour councillor Sean Morton was calling upon the UK Government to pave the way for regions throughout the country to provide whatever practical help possible to refugees.

Cllr Morton said that Moray Council should be allowed to intervene and help “if that was the will of our community”.

Now the SNP councillor for Elgin City North has written to the Council leader, Stewart Cree, asking for his support in ensuring that Moray Council does all it can to help the plight of refugees making the perilous journey to the safety of Europe.

Councillor Reid said she intends to submit an emergency motion in the hope it will be considered at next week’s meeting of the Moray Council. People in Moray and throughout the UK have been shocked by images of thousands of people, many children who are trying to escape persecution in Syria and Iraq.

Many have lost their lives as they desperately try to cross the Mediterranean in overcrowded makeshift boats and dinghies.

Councillor Reid said: “As a mother I find it absolutely heartbreaking to see dead children washed up on Mediterranean beaches, as their families desperately seek sanctuary from their war-torn homes.

“I know many people in Moray feel the same and are looking for a way to provide support.

“It is hard to imagine how terrible things have to be that people are forced into making such a dangerous journey in the hope of a future for their children and I want Moray Council to see what it can do to help.

“While we have challenges to face here in Moray, what is happening to people elsewhere is at a whole different level and we should all be concerned and do all that we can to prevent these deaths and help support those who find themselves fleeing their homes.

“Whether that is in looking at the possibility of having some accommodation available if it can be used or providing a collection point for people wishing to donate, there are practical things we can do to help.

“This is far beyond any experiences I am likely to see in my own life and I think we all have a moral duty to act now and help to address this terrible suffering as best we can.”

Cross-party support

Last night Councillor Sean Morton gave his support to Councillor Reid’s motion.  In a letter to her and council convener Allan Wright, he said: “If people in every council area in the country could help just ten refugees, we’d have helped 10,000 vulnerable people in one month.  These are people seeking safety but often finding death instead as Europe walks by on the other side.

“So many people from around Moray are willing to open their homes to welcome refugees and give them safe haven – just like we did in the 1990s with people from the Balkans.

“I am writing to you today to ask you to permit the emergency motion submitted to you today by Councillor Reid.  The country today has woken up to the horror facing these refugees with the images of a Aylan, a drowned Syrian boy, covering the pages of the national press.

“Our national and local consciousness is focussed on the plight of Syrians more today than ever before. If this isn’t a matter for urgent debate I don’t know what is.  I have not seen the text of the motion – but anything that demonstrates Moray’s eagerness to help has my support. I urge you to allow the debate and to call on the UK government to welcome those running from danger.”

Moray Reacts

Last night people in Moray were reacting with hundreds drawn to a Social Media page set up by the councillors as a rallying point for action in the region.

Councillor  Morton said: “Since I have spoken out about the need for us to do more many people have asked me how they can help.  I’ve asked the council to provide space for collecting tents, blankets, toiletries, clothes and other essential items that the refugees in Calais are desperate for.

“I also know that other groups in the meantime are keen to use theirs spaces as sorting and collection points. That’s why I’ve set up Moray CalAid on Facebook so that people know where to go to donate items that will help.

“Over the coming days I anticipate we’ll need to do even more so I hope that Moray CalAid will become more than an advice page. Hopefully we will have a meeting very soon to organise ways in which Moray can help as these people need our help.”