Ukraine humanitarian funding: letter from Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development

Letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee on 21 March 2022.

Scottish Government – Ukraine humanitarian funding

On 1 March, I wrote to the CEEAC Committee to respond to a query from the Committee on our international development programme. I also took the opportunity to update the Committee on two very recent humanitarian emergencies to which the Scottish Government has responded with funding. This included the then very recent announcement by the First Minister that the Scottish Government would be contributing humanitarian aid to support the devastating crisis in Ukraine: an initial £4m in humanitarian aid as part of the global humanitarian efforts; and that in addition to financial aid, the Scottish Government would provide medical supplies to Ukraine. Humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

At that time, my officials were in discussions with humanitarian aid agencies, including the Scottish iNGOs who are members of our Humanitarian Emergency Fund (HEF) Panel, to identify the best route to get this aid most quickly to those affected by the Ukraine crisis, including to those displaced by the invasion.  I had offered to share more details on the allocation of this funding in due course.

£4 million financial humanitarian aid

Since I wrote, we were able to work quickly with our existing humanitarian partners to allocate the £4 million in humanitarian funding identified for Ukraine:

  • on 2 March, we allocated the first two tranches of funding: £1 million, split between the British Red Cross and SCIAF to support their Ukraine Appeals; during the initial days of the humanitarian crisis developing in Ukraine, these two iNGOs, both members of our HEF Panel, were already active with their local partners on the ground
  • on 3 March, we announced £2 million awarded to the DEC Appeal for Ukraine, with the launch in Scotland that day supported and promoted jointly by all the party leaders in the Scottish Parliament and
  • on 4 March, we announced the final £1 million allocation, to UNICEF, to support work providing life-saving services and support for families, including children with disabilities

I am pleased to advise that we now have grant agreements in place with each of these partner organisations for this funding, and that these Scottish Government funds have transferred to them already to support their work on the ground.

In broad terms, our humanitarian funding across these organisations is supporting the following types of immediate assistance:

  • to people still inside Ukraine affected by the conflict, who local partner organisations can still reach, including people displaced and host communities
  • to vulnerable people as they are displaced from Ukraine, whilst they are in transit
  • to people who have already had to flee from Ukraine, to neighbouring countries, in particular Moldova, Poland, Hungary, Belarus, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic

with the caveat that humanitarian assistance at this time is focused on meeting humanitarian needs as they develop in a fluid and fast-moving situation, and in particular as more people are displaced from Ukraine itself to neighbouring countries. Urgent needs being met include food, first aid, warm clothes, water, short-term accommodation, necessary information, transport, and protection for women and children from violence.

Our funding to the Red Cross includes a special focus on vulnerable individuals, including unaccompanied minors, single women with children, elderly, and people with disabilities. 

Our funding to UNICEF includes support for mobile teams to provide psychosocial care to children and caregivers, as well as case-management support for the most vulnerable families with children. This includes cases of gender-based violence, children with disabilities in need of support, unaccompanied or separated children and other extremely vulnerable internally displaced families with children. UNICEF is also working with the Ukrainian Government to ensure continuity of child protection services including plans for the evacuation of children in institutional facilities which are being put in place as quickly as possible.

£2.9M worth of humanitarian medical equipment

We have also worked with the Ukrainian Government to provide medical supplies from stocks we hold, worth around £2.9M in total, and have coordinated with other UK nations to ensure that these supplies get to where they are needed as quickly as possible: 

  • our first donation of Medical supplies arrived in Poland on 3 March
  • we have to date sent four consignments of medical supplies to Poland for onward transport to Ukraine totalling 119 pallets valued at approximately £1.75M
  • our fourth consignment of 40 pallets arrived safely in Ukraine on 15 March and included bandages, blood containers and other priority items

Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson placed on record with the Committee his thanks to NHS Scotland staff who have supported this initiative on humanitarian medical equipment for Ukraine, and I echo his thanks.

Ready Scotland webpage

I also want to express my thanks to the people of Scotland in the way that they have responded. We have been truly heartened to see the response across Scotland to this tragic situation in Ukraine. The DEC Appeal has so far raised almost £20 million in Scotland alone.

We have also has created a webpage to help people in Scotland to provide humanitarian support making donations in a safe and effective way. The webpage can be found at: Humanitarian support|Ready Scotland. The First Minister has written to all MSPs to highlight this site. Our ReadyScotland website provides guidance about supporting humanitarian causes and making donations safely and effectively. The website signposts to reputable non-profit organisations such as the DEC, UNICEF and other leading Scotland-based humanitarian charities such as Mercy Corps and SCIAF, all of which have launched fundraising appeals for Ukraine and are able to target support quickly to those most in need.

We are keen to keep the Committee advised of our actions in response to this fast-moving situation, and thank Members for their ongoing support.

Scheme opens for displaced Ukrainians

In closing, I would like to draw the Committee’s attention to the scheme which has now opened (18th March) for displaced Ukrainians. People in Scotland who are willing to volunteer and provide homes for Ukrainians arriving through the sponsorship scheme are being encouraged to sign up at the Homes for Ukraine portal.

Scotland’s offer to provide refuge and sanctuary to displaced Ukrainians, as part of the UK Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. Accessible through the UK Government’s online portal, a distinct route to accommodation, support and care in Scotland - the Warm Scots Welcome - is now available to people displaced by the invasion of Ukraine.

Acting as a ‘super sponsor’, the Scottish Government’s route removes the need for applicants to be matched to a named individual before they are cleared to travel to the UK through the visa system. I held a series of meetings with local authorities on 18th March, as we continue to 
work with partners - local councils, the Scottish Refugee Council, the NHS, Disclosure Scotland, NGOs, faith groups and others - to complete safeguarding checks, put in place wider health, education, practical and befriending support, and arrange longer term accommodation.

The First Minister has said set out that, to those Ukrainians arriving in our country, we will treat them with compassion, dignity and respect, and extends a warm welcome to Scotland, our home – and, for as long as you need it, theirs too.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Gray



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