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Statement from the City of Edinburgh Council Leader on MS Victoria

Posted: 26th June 2023

The City of Edinburgh Council agreed today to write to the UK Government about their decision to utilise floating accommodation to accommodate people in the city.

Council Leader Councillor Cammy Day said:

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve shown solidarity with, and support for, thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have fled Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine, as we have for Syrian, Afghani and, most recently, Sudanese refugees. Thankfully most of us will never experience the horrors these communities have faced, and we remain absolutely committed to supporting them in whatever way we can.

As Ukrainian refugees continue to disembark MS Victoria following the Scottish Government’s decision to end its use next month, we were extremely surprised to be contacted by the Home Office about their intentions to commission the ship to house asylum seekers. All the more surprising given their previous advice that it would be impossible for it to remain. 

We were not consulted on this and urgently require further details from the UK Government on their plans. I know the Scottish Government and COSLA are in the same position and, having written jointly to the Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Jenrick MP, we’ve yet to receive a satisfactory response to our questions and concerns.

The potential consequences for the Council in terms of the pressures on our services – and the city as a whole – are severe and, barring robust partnership discussions involving NHS, police and other colleagues, we will continue to oppose these plans in the strongest terms.  Further, it is our understanding that Forth Ports are also against these proposals.

Many of these people have risked their lives to make it to Europe and what they need is recognition and rights, not an unknown future without the support they so desperately need. While the MS Victoria has been a place of refuge for many Ukrainian families arriving in Edinburgh, until we have adequate reassurances from the UK Government regarding the welfare and ongoing engagement and support, we cannot allow it to become a floating prison for asylum seekers.”

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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