On Friday evening I attended a vigil organised at short notice which made the point that 'Dundee Welcomes Refugees'. I am acutely aware that there are many problems facing people in Dundee and that we need to focus on them. Dundee, however, does have a strong track-record of welcoming refugees and other immigrants. The history of our city is a history of immigration, and it is true to say that many people over the years have sought refuge in Dundee and have received a welcome.
I was surprised to be asked to speak and made a brief contribution, you can watch a video of the vigil here. My main point was that I am sure that across the council there is support for offering a welcome to refugees but that people should contact their own councillors to tell them that they think that action should be taken.
It is important to recognise the human dignity of each and every individual human being and this means that we cannot ignore the plight of those who are fleeing war and persecution in the Middle East (and elsewhere). It has been good to see the UK and Scottish Governments eventually agree to work to welcome refugees. I have asked Dundee City Council officials about the response that the council can give. The early indications are that the council will be able to offer some help and the Scottish Government appears to be looking for ways of helping to fund this.
I am clear that we should be working for an international situation which does not lead to the creation of refugees. How this happens is very difficult to tell but we must work towards it. An international situation where justice and peace are the watchwords would go a long way to preventing refugee situations arising.
A few years ago in a previous job, I was partly responsible for writing the policy of Justice & Peace Scotland with regard to refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants, and while this is document is motivated from a Christian viewpoint it does represent my views and I think still has something to say to everyone no matter what they believe.
Finally, I would say that I agree with the conclusion of the Courier's editorial on Monday 7 September
'Now is not the time for posturing and point scoring.
Now is the time for action to help those in need.'