On Sunday, I was proud to take part in the Glenrothes Armistice Ceremony, and to lay a wreath at the Markinch War Memorial. Each year, Remembrance Sunday gives us an opportunity to pause, reflect and give thanks for the sacrifices made by service men and women in the First World War, and all wars since, to protect our freedom and way of life. It is also a recognition of the diplomacy required to achieve peace at a time when war feels inevitable.
As we remember the courage and sacrifices of those who came before us, we must also reflect on the values of armistice – of preserving peace and placing human life above all else. As too many western governments refuse to join growing calls for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the UK Government has a responsibility to show international leadership and stand up for human rights.
The UN Secretary General has called for an immediate ceasefire to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those who need it, and First Minister Humza Yousaf has personally and repeatedly made urgent representations to the UK Government. The First Minister has been clear that the UK Government has a responsibility to act and should be using its trusted position as an ally of the government of Israel to be calling for an end to collective punishment.
While foreign affairs remain reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has limited influence over the response to this crisis. However, the Scottish Government’s priority is supporting the humanitarian effort to protect innocent victims of this conflict. Over the past month, the Scottish Government has pledged £750,000 to assist relief efforts via the UN’s Relief and Works Agency’s Flash Appeal. This aid is urgently needed and will fund immediate relief projects to provide shelter, food, medicines, and water to people and families who have had to flee their homes.
Remembrance Day is, above all, a reminder that peace is hard won. Our thoughts are with the innocent civilians caught in the escalating conflict in Gaza and in Israel, and all our efforts should be focused on achieving peace and providing international humanitarian aid.