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by Kirsteen Paterson
24 October 2023
Humza Yousaf: 'Time is running out' for my family in Gaza

Depute First Minister Shona Robison reaches out to First Minister Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf: 'Time is running out' for my family in Gaza

A tearful Humza Yousaf has made an impassioned plea for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid in Gaza as he said "time is running out" for his relatives there.

Yousaf's parents-in-law Elizabeth and Maged el-Nakla are sheltering in a house with 100 other people where supplies are running low.

The first minister said Elizabeth, a retired nurse from Dundee, had only eaten cashew nuts the previous day to ensure food was available for the children in the house.

The retirees had gone to Gaza to visit relatives there, including young children, before the Hamas attack on Israel which preceded the Israeli Government's bombardment of Palestinian areas. Civilians were told to evacuate north Gaza but travel corridors are closed and only a small amount of humanitarian aid has been allowed to enter south Gaza.

Scotland's first minister has said this country "is ready to treat the injured men, women and children of Gaza in our hospitals" if the UK Government agrees a resettlement scheme and said he is "sickened" by the "brutality" of Hamas.

Calling for an immediate ceasefire, he said "there can be no religious or moral defence for the killing of innocents" and "Israel, like every other country, has a right to defend itself from terror", but that must be "within the confines of international law".

Yousaf, whose brother-in-law is working in a Gaza hospital, told MSPs: "UN agencies described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as desperate before. They now call the situation catastrophic. 

"Today premature babies, injured infants, pregnant women and all the people who've lost their homes overnight in Gaza have little in the way of access to clean water. They cannot make bread, many are desperate need of sufficient medical treatment for horrendous injuries and have virtually no access to life saving medicine. The aid, the trickle of aid arriving in Gaza, must be significantly increased without delay, and Presiding Officer it must include fuel otherwise, hospitals will simply shut down. The sick, the injured, premature babies, they will die, Presiding Officer, and if that happens, it will be a stain on all of our collective consciences and there's one that we should not be forgiven."

Thanking those who have offered support to him and his wife, Dundee councillor Nadia el-Nakla, for the family's plight, Yousaf said: "I have a wife who really wants to hug her mum and dad. I have two girls who really missed their granny and granddad and they just want to know, like many other families across the country, when they will come home. I'm afraid, Presiding Officer, it's a question I simply do not know the answer."

Sharing his sympathies with other affected families, he said of his mother-in-law: "She only ate cashew nuts yesterday, they ration so the children in the house don't end up malnourished. But time is running out. 

"I spoke to my mother-in-law this morning. She feels helpless. She has lost hope. She tells me she feels as if the UK Government has forgotten about her. 

"Please don't interpret my point as a political one. As a UK citizen, the only communication that she receives from the Foreign Office is a text message telling her what she already knows: the Rafah crossing is closed. What she needs is the government, the prime minister, the foreign secretary to spend every minute of every day demanding their allies in Egypt and Israel open the Rafah crossing, open it now, to allow those UK citizens, all of who are trapped in Gaza, safe passage for them to return home to their families."

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