Edinburgh and asylum seekers: Forth Ports dismiss reports claiming cruise ship was turned away from Leith
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Bosses at Forth Ports have dismissed reports that a giant cruise ship set to house 1,000 asylum seekers was turned away from Leith.
Sky News and several newspapers reported that two ships acquired by the UK Government as part of its attempt to tackle the number of refugees crossing the Channel in small boats had been returned to their owners after failing to find anywhere to dock. It was suggested the plan had been to locate the ships at Liverpool and Edinburgh, but the authorities in each place had refused them.
Forth Ports said the reports were “inaccurate”, but also made clear it did not envisage any ship for asylum seekers docking at Leith. A spokesperson said: “Forth Ports has had no contact from the UK or Scottish Government on this matter and has no plans to house an asylum seeker vessel at the Port of Leith.”
Leith played host for a year to the cruise ship MS Victoria which was housing Ukrainian refugees. And last month it emerged that, with the Ukrainians being rehoused elsewhere, the Home Office wanted to take over the vessel to house asylum seekers. But Forth Ports said it would not be able to accommodate such a facility because it was focusing on building its new offshore renewables hub. And the ship sailed from Leith last week. Council leader Cammy Day spoke out at the time, saying the Victoria had been a place of refuge for Ukrainian families and should not be turned into a "floating prison" for asylum seekers.
On the latest reports about a cruise ship seeking to dock at Leith to house asylum seekers, Cllr Day said there had been no approach to the council on the matter. He said: “I have it in writing from Forth Ports that they cannot accommodate a ship.” He said there were discussions about whether Edinburgh could take more refugees, but he did not believe a ship was the right place for asylum seekers.