Gaza (Humanitarian Assistance)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 20 March 2024.

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Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what action it has taken to support the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. (S6O-03216)

Photo of Kaukab Stewart Kaukab Stewart Scottish National Party

In November, we provided £750,000 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to ease the suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza. That was in response to a flash appeal and was a one-off contribution.

Famine is now imminent in Gaza, primarily because of restrictions on aid access. The First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister in December, asking him to make it clear to Israeli ministers that they and Israeli military commanders will be held accountable for deaths from starvation and disease as a result of their restrictions on access for humanitarian aid. It is now urgent that that message is conveyed directly to Prime Minster Netanyahu. The restrictions must be lifted immediately.

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

Given the continuing deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Gaza, it is clear that we need to redouble international efforts to secure an immediate ceasefire to allow aid to get through. We cannot and must not stand by while thousands of innocent men, women and children are killed and while even more are starving and going without medicines. Does the minister agree that the United Kingdom Government should be taking concrete steps to secure an immediate ceasefire, including ending arms sales to Israel and using its position on the United Nations Security Council to demand one? Can she provide any update on the Scottish Government’s latest engagement with the UK Government in that regard?

Photo of Kaukab Stewart Kaukab Stewart Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has been engaging with the UK Government since the outset of the conflict to highlight our position. I agree with Kevin Stewart’s remarks. We will continue to engage through our connections with the UK Government. We have made it clear that it is incumbent on the UK Government to do everything that lies within its power to secure an immediate ceasefire by all sides to prevent further devastation in Gaza, including by using its influence in the international sphere and with the Government of Israel to achieve that.

In the light of Israel’s statement that its armed forces will attack Rafah, which is the final refuge of more than 1.5 million civilians in Gaza, the First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister, calling on him to introduce an immediate ban on licensed arms exports from the UK to Israel. The Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture has also written to the UK Government, but we have had no response to date.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Foysol Choudhury has a brief supplementary question.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Labour

I recently met the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, which outlined the dire situation with high rates of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in Palestine. Can the minister please advise what steps the Scottish Government is taking to ensure that the aid that Scotland sends is available to reach new and expectant mothers in Gaza?

Photo of Kaukab Stewart Kaukab Stewart Scottish National Party

I thank Foysol Choudhury for his question and refer him to my previous comments on what the Scottish Government is doing. I am acutely aware of the plight of new and expectant mothers, and I mentioned it during my opening contribution to the debate on international women’s day.