THE UK Government's approach to Afghans fleeing the Taliban has been exposed as "racist", according to a Scottish Green MSP who highlighted the need for Scotland to have more powers over immigration and refugee support.

The party's human rights spokesperson Maggie Chapman MSP was speaking ahead of a debate in the Scottish Parliament today (September 2) where she is expected to condemn the UK Nationality and Borders Bill as a direct attack on refugee rights.

The North East Scotland MSP said that while it is good to see Scottish councils "open their arms to take in refugees", there is little Scotland can do to help while working "under a racist UK Government" that is "attacking their rights".

Chapman (below) refers to the UK Nationality and Borders Bill, introduced by Home Secretary Priti Patel, which is currently making its way through Westminster and puts provisions on asylum applications of how a refugee enters the UK.

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Holyrood will debate what Scotland can do to help the people of Afghanistan in light of the humanitarian and human rights crisis following the Taliban takeover.

External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson will bring forward a motion calling on the Parliament to "record its alarm" to the crisis and the threat to life, liberty, equality, and human rights to all in Afghanistan and, in particular, for women and girls and minority communities.

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It also commends the Armed Forces, service personnel and humanitarian agencies involved in the evacuation efforts and calls on the UK to play a "lead role internationally" in ensuring aid continues to reach those at risk in Afghanistan.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Chapman said: “The crisis in Afghanistan has led to thousands fleeing for their lives and it is our duty to help these people. It has been good to see Scottish councils open their arms to take in refugees, but there is only so much we can do when we are working under a racist UK Government which is directly attacking their rights.

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“This is a government which already housing asylum seekers in prison-like conditions where Covid outbreaks and mental health crises are rife, but it is going to get worse. The proposed UK Nationality and Borders Bill is a direct attack on the rights of refugees and contravenes the 1951 Refugee Convention by making routes into the UK ‘illegal’, even when people are fleeing war, torture and persecution."

The Nationality and Borders Bill would reject asylum applications from people who enter the UK without a visa. This could be punishable by up to four years in prison if the bill becomes law.

Chapman added: “It is more clear than ever that Scotland must be able to make independent human and humane policy decisions relating to refugees, and reject the cruelty of the institutionally racist Home Office.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK Government will always stand by those fleeing persecution or oppression in their hour of need. As part of our New Plan for Immigration, we are establishing safe and legal routes to enable the most vulnerable people to start a new life in safety in the UK. This is demonstrated by the bespoke scheme we are urgently working on to provide protection for Afghan citizens identified most at risk, and we are insisting that safe passage continues for those who want to leave.

“It is incredibly dangerous for people to come to the UK through illegal migration and they should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. It is right that we focus on creating safe and legal routes, which is precisely what the Bill does, so that people can get sanctuary safely.”