SNP foreign affairs spokesperson, Alyn Smith, is calling for a joint effort from rugby Six Nations Championship members in fundraising to assist and support the island nation following the devastation caused by a volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami.
In an urgent question and answer session in Parliament on Monday (24 Jan), Mr Smith raised the issue, stating that he would hope all rugby governing bodies would play their part in doing what they can to help with the crisis.
Mr Smith has been in touch with Scottish Rugby, the game’s governing body in Scotland, who have indicated a number of actions being taken to help assess what support the organisation can offer the humanitarian aid effort, inducing:
- Discussions with the Tonga High Commission to assess what relief is being sought.
- Liaising with the Tonga Rugby Union for more information from the ground.
- Gathering information from the Red Cross on work being carried out.
- Directing fans who wish to donate to the New Zealand Red Cross.
- Seeking guidance on the feasibility of a Six Nations approach, with a possible public facing fundraising campaign.
Commenting, Alyn Smith said:
‘This was a devastating disaster, and my thoughts are of course with the victims and those who have suffered as a result of the volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami. It has been suggested that there is a positive role for the Six Nations Championship to play in helping to raise the funds needed to address the emergency situation and I support this call. I know from discussions with Scottish Rugby that work is already ongoing to assess what support the organisation can help to provide to Tonga – and I very much welcome this.
‘However, as I pointed out to the government in Parliament, the need for organisations to get involved in this way would not be so great had the UK not cut its commitment to international aid. This has severely hampered our ability to assist with tackling climate change, international development, and emergency response. There is a time and a place for making political points, that said it cannot be ignored that the UK government’s actions have serious consequences.
‘With the Six Nations starting next month, the eyes of the world will be on each country’s governing bodies, the perfect opportunity to unite people across the globe in helping with the humanitarian crisis that Tonga has been left in.
‘As much as I’m pleased Scottish Rugby is engaging in some really positive work to help the people of Tonga, I hope to see a Six Nations approach going forward to help answer the call, and I know that myself along with colleagues across the political spectrum will do whatever we can to support them.’