As we witness the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II, and with more than two million Ukrainians now having fled since the Russian invasion began, the UK must take action and respond fully, with humanity and compassion. The desperation of those fleeing and displaced by the war in Ukraine are clearly distressing and heart-rending. We cannot and must not turn our back on the people of Ukraine.
The Home Secretary’s announcement today, detailing the introduction of an entirely online application processes for Ukrainian family members seeking to come to the UK without the requirement to attend a Visa Application Centre, is a welcome step in the right direction. As is the decision to further extend the Ukrainian Family Visa Scheme. It is clear though that it is not enough.
It is neither reasonable nor morally acceptable to expect people fleeing war to go through complex bureaucratic processes in order to reach safety within the UK. Therefore we urge you to follow the example of European countries including the Republic of Ireland by waiving all visa requirements for any Ukrainian nationals seeking refuge in the UK, as well as implementing the temporary protection regulations. We must provide sanctuary first and treat people with respect and humanity.
Scotland stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and deeply wishes to provide them with practical support, aid and refuge. We are ready to provide that to people in need right now. The Scottish Government is already working with local authorities and the Scottish Refugee Council to make sure that our communities are ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees as soon as they are able to come here, and ensure that they have the support that they need. More than a week after it was announced on 1 March, we urge you to set out the details of the humanitarian sponsorship pathway, including when it will open and confirmation that the UK Government will provide the flexibility and the financial support needed to allow us in Scotland and communities across the UK to contribute.
As a further demonstration of this solidarity, the following leaders of Scotland’s political parties have co-signed this letter. I hope you will agree with our collective call for urgent action to be taken by the UK Government in dealing with this crisis; to allow people to enter the UK and provide a comprehensive and funded settlement programme and package of support for those seeking refugee here.
I am copying this letter to Liz Truss, Michael Gove, Priti Patel, Alister Jack and Angus Robertson.
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