Scottish authorities have condemned UK Home Office plans to house asylum-seekers on a cruise ship in Leith, likening it to a “floating prison,” the BBC reported on Friday.
Edinburgh Council leader Cammy Day said the council had shown solidarity with thousands of refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and Ukraine, and was “absolutely committed to supporting them any way we can,” but opposed the idea of moving them to the MS Victoria.
“We were not consulted on this and urgently require further details from the UK government on their plans,” Day said.
“I know the Scottish government and Cosla (the national association of Scottish councils) 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 ship has housed over 1,000 Ukrainian refugees, with the last set to leave on July 11, but Scotland’s Migration and Refugees Minister Emma Roddick said new plan is incomparable.
“Housing asylum seekers in vessels cannot be compared with their use to temporarily accommodate displaced people from Ukraine because of fundamental differences in terms of their rights and agency,” she added, noting that people waiting on asylum applications face strict restrictions on the right to work and no access to most mainstream benefits.
“If the government chooses to impose the use of the MS Victoria to accommodate people it must provide suitable funding for the council and devolved services like health and policing and ensure services are provided so people can be supported appropriately,” she said.