People arriving from Ukraine - risk and need: public protection guidance

Guidance for all practitioners involved in safeguarding of children and adults who are arriving in Scotland from Ukraine to identify and respond to risk and need.


This guide refers to the promotion of wellbeing and the protection of vulnerable people. Public protection is the framework and practice for:

  • maximising the safety of those who may be vulnerable to harm
  • protecting them
  • allowing for their identification and a skilled response where concerns arise

In Scotland, the foundations of public protection policies, guidance, and legislation are held within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The principles and the entitlements of these Conventions underpin our core business. 

The support needs of Ukrainian people are linked to their individual circumstances, including:

  • health and wellbeing on arrival
  • who, if anyone, accompanies children
  • the migration route through which they arrive
  • where they will be accommodated during their stay

Children on the move in and outside of Ukraine are known to be unaccompanied or have been separated from their parents and family members. Nearly 100,000 children in Ukraine, many of whom have disabilities or additional support needs, were living in group care homes at the outbreak of war. 

Children without parental care are at heightened risk of violence, abuse and exploitation. The UNHCR and UNICEF joint statement highlighted that when these children are moved across borders, the risks increase significantly.

The United Nations Refugee Agency has identified groups of people who may experience additional vulnerability, including:

  • women and girls at risk of gender-based violence
  • people who identify as LGBTI
  • older people
  • disabled people
  • third country nationals who had been living in Ukraine prior to the war

The risk of human trafficking increases in emergencies. Read The UN Human Trafficking (FAQ’s). Human trafficking remains a risk to children and adults both on and after arrival in Scotland.

Over the past year approximately 45,500 HfU/Super sponsor visas have been confirmed or issued; of which; approximately 24,500 Ukrainians have arrived in Scotland. Therefore, it remains the case that we are uncertain how many people will arrive, including accompanied or unaccompanied children.  

It is essential that people arriving from Ukraine are supported by trauma-informed services to be and to feel safe.  With robust, professional assessment and good practice we can confidently support our guests from Ukraine. This will include supporting and protecting children and adults at risk of harm in Scotland, and addressing their health and social care needs.



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