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Campaign group highlights plight of refugees

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A group of Edinburgh activists took action this weekend to raise awareness of inhumane Aegean island camp conditions

A campaign group gathered at Holyrood this weekend to highlight poor conditions refugees are facing in Greece.

On Sunday morning, Edinburgh Must Act, a local chapter of Europe Must Act, staged a socially distanced protest outside the Scottish Parliament buildings.

The group hung banners across the square in front of the Scottish Parliament, decorated with slogans such as “One tap per 900 people on Moria”, “Moria 5x Over Capacity” and “We Have Space”. They aim to encourage the citizens of Edinburgh to put pressure on their MPs to sign Early Day Motion #922 which would mean that the UK follows suit of Germany, France and Norway in pledging to relocate asylum seekers and refugees on the Aegean Islands to local authorities in the UK.

This protest was part of a wave of solidarity protests across the country this weekend, accompanied by a webinar organised by Europe Must Act in which an interdisciplinary panel of people with refugee experience, journalists, scientists and volunteers spoke about what people can do to support the cause. These events have been organised in response to the European Commission's New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which EMA claim does little to alleviate the inhumane conditions experienced in camps.

Paula, a member of Edinburgh Must Act, said: “The number of victims of the European border regime continues to grow, and local and national governments can no longer turn a blind eye; Scotland has an opportunity to present itself as a welcoming and open nation, rather than one who chooses to leave tens of thousands in inhumane conditions.”

Another member, Simon, added: “This week saw 110 people die in the Mediterranean sea as result of Europe's inhumane migration system. People are trapped in unsuitable camps during a pandemic as a result of Europe's inhumane migration system; Humans that are fleeing war, persecution, and climate change are met with violence instead of care.”

Europe Must Act is a fast-growing, Europe-wide social movement calling for a humane migration policy in the UK and the EU alongside the urgent decongestion of the refugee camps on the Greek Aegean Islands, where there are currently approximately 30,200 refugees and asylum seekers living in camps with capacity for less than 7000 people.

The situation has been exacerbated by both Covid-19 and the fires that destroyed Moria camp on Lesbos, as thousands have been left without shelter and basic necessities such as food, water and clothing. Europe Must Act aims to rally citizens, councils and mayors of European towns and cities to pledge their support for the immediate relocation of asylum seekers on the Greek islands.