Scotland’s migration minister has urged the Government to expand the number of Palestinian people who can join their family in the UK.

In a letter to UK minister Tom Pursglove, Emma Roddick pushed for the Refugee Family Reunion scheme to include “immediate and extended family, including parents, children over 18, siblings and their children”.

The current system allows only for partners and children under 18 to join family in the UK.

Ms Roddick suggested the minister meet with families of people stuck in Gaza and hear their “harrowing experiences”.

She also called for the Home Office to waive the need for biometric data to be collected for Gazans looking to leave before they arrive in the UK, or to transfer those trying to come here to a site where they can make an application under the current system.

“The Scottish Government and the Scottish Refugee Council fully support the aims of the Gaza Families Reunited campaign alongside more than 74,000 people who have signed a public petition as well as more than 75 migrants’ rights organisations and law firms across the UK.

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“The campaign calls for a scheme to be opened for relatives of all Palestinians in the UK, not just those with refugee status.

“This should be open to a wider cohort of immediate and extended family, including parents, children over 18, siblings and their children.

“Before replying to this letter, I would like to request that you meet with members of the campaign who would be happy to share some of their harrowing experiences with you.”

Before responding to her letter, Ms Roddick asked that the minister meet with Gaza Families Reunited as she did.

The Herald: Emma Roddick MSP

She told the story of Doaa, whom she said spent six weeks without being able to contact her mother, sister and children, as they made the trip from the north of Gaza to Rafah in the south of the territory on foot.

She also spoke of Ramy, who has lost 200 members of his extended family.

Since the outbreak of war in Gaza, the minister said, she has received “several hundred” letters from residents asking to come to Scotland to seek safety, including one father who wrote six times, whose 11-year-old daughter died due to “a lack of specialist food and medical support”.

“Acting now to provide a temporary place of sanctuary for Gazans with family in the UK will not only save lives but is fully aligned with the UK’s responsibility to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need,” the minister said.

Ms Roddick also pushed for protections for human rights defenders in the region, including where necessary by facilitating their relocation to the UK, as part of the UK’s overall response to the current crisis”, she said.

A spokesperson for the UK Government said: “We are working around the clock to get British nationals, who want to leave, out of Gaza. We have a team on the ground in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing providing consular assistance.

“We currently have no plans to establish a separate route for Palestinians to come to the UK. However, any dependants of British citizens who need a visa, can apply for one.”

A spokesperson for the Gaza Families Reunited campaign said they were “pleased” Ms Roddick was pushing for action.

“We all have a right to family unity but the UK Government’s reluctance to create a Gaza Family Scheme is endangering the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and keeping families apart,” they added.

“In response to calls for family visa schemes for Palestinians from Gaza, the UK Government has signposted to existing routes.

“These are, however, extremely limited and simply do not work. We know that at least two people have died while waiting for the Home Office to decide whether they can reunite with their loved ones in the UK.

“This is unconscionable.

“The British Government has previously offered sanctuary to Ukrainian families under the Ukraine Family Scheme. All we are asking is that the same option is afforded to Palestinians seeking protection from bombardment and starvation, who want to reunite with their loved ones.”