First Minister Humza Yousaf has spoken of the “unimaginable suffering” experienced by those living in conflict, as he insisted refugees should be treated with “respect and dignity”.
He made the plea in a new year message which highlighted the troubles in Gaza, as well as the war in Ukraine and conflicts in countries such as Sudan, Yemen and Somalia.
With his parents-in-law having been trapped in Gaza for several weeks during the current conflict, Mr Yousaf said “too many families right across Scotland” will begin 2024 with “worries and fears – particularly those with loved ones caught up in conflicts across the world”.
The First Minister said: “I know those worries and fears all too well.
“I hope that 2024 sees an end to the unimaginable suffering experienced by the peoples of Gaza and of Ukraine, but also of Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and all those who endure the horrors of war across the globe.”
He went on to stress the need to “treat those that come to our shores with kindness, with respect, and dignity”.
Mr Yousaf added: “At this time of year more than any other, we should all be looking out for one another.”
Describing the start of the new year as a “time for hope, for optimism, for excitement”, he said he will “continue to work tirelessly to create new opportunities and economic growth, to deliver a sustainable future for our children and our planet, and to ensure a fairer, wealthier and greener Scotland for everyone”.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross used his new year message to focus on the general election likely to take place in 2024.
He said: “With an election on the horizon, we face a choice.”
Mr Ross added that politicians can either focus on “the issues that really matter to people – growing our economy and rebuilding our key public services”, or “focus on the same old political obsessions that have divided Scotland for far too long”.
With an election looming, he said there is now an “opportunity to move Scotland forward and concentrate on people’s real priorities”.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar meanwhile said Scotland was going into 2024 with “inequality, injustice and poverty on the rise”.
He added: “Too many families here in Scotland are living in hardship.”
Like Mr Ross he also highlighted the general election, and with Labour ahead in the polls across the UK, said that “2024 will be the year of change”
With Labour seeking to make gains north of the border in that election, Mr Sarwar said the ballot would “give Scotland the chance to lead the way in delivering the change our country so desperately needs”.
Scottish Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater highlighted the “soaring temperatures and evermore extreme weather events” experienced in 2023 as she spoke of the “urgency of climate action”.
She insisted: “2024 must be the year that we all do our bit to step up to the challenges we face and take the environmental steps that are needed.
“In 2024, let us come together to support action for people and planet, so that we can build a world that future generations will cherish and a society that reflects the values we hold dear.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton used his message to say “Scotland needs a new direction” in 2024.
He criticised both the Tory Government at Westminster and the SNP at Holyrood, saying the Scottish Government’s “fixation on breaking up the UK has taken a heavy toll on public services”.
He pledged he will be “focused on repairing the health service, lifting up Scottish education, creating a dynamic green economy and getting the sewage out of our rivers” in 2024.
Mr Cole-Hamilton also encouraged Scots to “be optimistic for the future”, saying: “Scotland is a brilliant, talented, creative, welcoming country, and while we may face enormous challenges I am confident that we can rise to meet them.”