Arms firm accused of profiting from refugees fleeing war zones are 'paying to meet MSPs'

Daily Record, 10 July 2016, by Billy Briggs

AN arms firm accused of fuelling war and profiting from refugees fleeing conflict zones are paying for access to MSPs.

Airbus are a multinational who have had access to politicians through their membership of the controversial Scottish Parliament and Business Exchange (SPBE). But the firm have been condemned in a new report that says arms dealers are making vast profits from the refugee crisis in Europe. The report – Border Wars – criticises the border security market, a booming industry since the exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees from conflict zones such as Syria. The report was produced by a Dutch organisation called Stop Wapenhandel.

It said Airbus – a joint French and German firm and the seventh-largest arms producers in the world – are a major player in border security. Airbus make fighter jets, artillery systems, missiles and helicopters. They also make helicopters for the North Sea oil industry.

Border Wars says arms firms are making huge profits from refugees because of the EU’s investment in “securing its borders”. The report said: “They are the military and security companies that provide the equipment to border guards, the surveillance technology to monitor frontiers and the IT infrastructure to track population movements.

“Most perverse of all, it shows that some of the beneficiaries of border security contracts are some of the biggest arms sellers to the Middle East and north Africa, fuelling conflicts that are the cause of many of the refugees. In other words, the companies creating the crisis are then profiting from it.”

Airbus are condemned alongside firms Finmeccanica and Thales, who both have premises in Scotland. Airbus products for border security include helicopters, communication systems and radar. The airborne unit of the German federal police operate 79 Airbus helicopters. In March 2015, Airbus joined the SPBE, an organisation set up in 2001 to link businesses and Scots politicians. The SPBE registered as a charity and claimed not to be a lobbying organisation but firms paid to sign up. In March, it was announced that Holyrood had cancelled membership of the SPBE and they are now winding down.

Mark Akkerman, of Stop Wapenhandel, said: “Even though the lobbying by Airbus in Scotland is probably not focused on military or border security issues, the company’s business of fuelling conflicts and profiting from the refugee crisis should be reason enough to be very cautious about
maintaining any relationship with them.”

Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: “Airbus have sold military equipment to regimes with appalling human rights records. “The Scottish Parliament should not be working with those who are arming human rights abusers and profiting from a humanitarian crisis.”

Arthur McIvor, chief executive of the SPBE, said: “The SPBE are a non-lobbying, non-partisan educational charity. Our role is to increase understanding between organisations and MSPs.” Airbus said: “We work closely with many organisations to support the skills, innovation and manufacturing agenda.​ ​“Membership of the SPBE is through Airbus Helicopters UK, an employer in the oil and gas sector in Aberdeen.”

 

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Read more at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/arms-firm-accused-profit...

Read more at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/arms-firm-accused-profit...

 

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