Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice
Emma Roddick MSP, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees
Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine has devastated the lives of innocent Ukrainians, forcing millions of people to flee their homes.
Scotland continues to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
The scale and speed of the displacement of people from Ukraine across Europe was unprecedented, however, our communities and services rose to the challenge to provide suitable accommodation and access to essential support. The Scottish Government’s super sponsor scheme provided a route to safety for thousands of displaced people from Ukraine.
The subsequent pause and review of the scheme outlined 16 interventions to ensure we could continue to provide appropriate accommodation and support to those displaced people who had already arrived, and those who were yet to arrive with approved super sponsor visas.
Over a year has passed since the invasion of Ukraine began and uncertainty continues over when the conflict will come to an end. Therefore, it is important that the Scottish Government and our key partners look to the next phase of our response. The first phase committed to a Warm Scots Welcome, focusing on immediate humanitarian need. Now, we must look to support a Warm Scots Future for those displaced from Ukraine who may wish to remain and build their lives in Scotland over the longer-term.
The next phase of our response centres around the core principles of this Government – equality, opportunity and community. A Warm Scots Future represents a transition to a long-term approach focused on integration, in line with our New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy, so that people displaced from Ukraine can play active roles in communities across Scotland, and have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and fulfil their potential in work and education. This is the Scottish Government’s ambition for all people who have sought refuge in Scotland.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of this paper, particularly our key partners, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council, and those other stakeholders who participated in our engagement and consultation throughout. I would further extend my thanks to all the people across Scotland who have supported those arriving from Ukraine - and making it clear that we want Scotland to be their home for as long as they need it.
Cllr Maureen Chalmers, COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson
I am hugely proud of the fact that 25,155 displaced people from Ukraine have arrived in the UK under the Scottish Super Sponsor and Homes for Ukraine Schemes with a sponsor in Scotland as of 25 July 2023. This is a scale of humanitarian protection we have never experienced in Scotland before, and I cannot underestimate the tremendous effort it has taken to ensure that our Ukrainian guests have found a safe and welcoming place to stay in Scotland. This has been a joint effort between Local, Scottish and UK Government, our partners in the public and third sector and the many individual hosts who have shown incredible generosity in opening their homes to people in need.
COSLA and Scottish Local Government welcome the publication of this policy position paper, and the five strategic priorities that it sets out to initiate a conversation on how we can transition from an emergency response to a long-term and more sustainable approach.
The paper reinforces our commitment to welcome and support displaced people from Ukraine by aligning our response with the strong principles set out in the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy. While it highlights the key role that hotels and ships have played in providing safe temporary accommodation to those fleeing war in Ukraine, it also recognises that prolonged use of welcome accommodation is not in the best interests of our guests in the long-term.
The paper does not shy away from issues associated with the additional demands being placed on services and the impacts on a housing sector in Scotland that is already under unprecedented strain. It also raises an issue Local Authorities have long been raising around the need for clear routes to settlement for those seeking protection in this country, and it highlights the importance of strong partnership working as a crucial means of moving to a new, more sustainable approach to supporting people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive Scottish Refugee Council
When people fleeing the war against Ukraine first began arriving in Scotland, I joined staff and volunteers who had gathered to greet people at our Welcome Point in Glasgow airport.
In the days and months that followed, more than 20,000 people from Ukraine arrived in the UK with a Scottish sponsor in search of safety. Some were greeted by relieved friends and family members living here. But most were welcomed by complete strangers. Thousands of people from across the country who had opened up their homes and their hearts.
I’m proud of the role that Scottish Refugee Council has played in welcoming new arrivals from Ukraine. Working alongside the Scottish Government, local authorities and other third sector organisations, we helped shape Scotland’s emergency response and expanded our services to offer more information, advice and support at this crucial moment.
Scottish Refugee Council is committed to making Scotland the best place for refugees to thrive, challenge injustice, achieve their goals and empower their communities, no matter where they have come from or how they arrived.
The strategic priorities set out in a Warm Scots Future support this ambition. Over the coming months, we look forward to working alongside COSLA, the Scottish Government, third sector partners and representatives from the Ukrainian community to help meet the longer-term needs of those who have been displaced.
We are ready to play our part in ensuring that people fleeing the war against Ukraine feel safe, settled and secure here in Scotland and can play an active role in their new communities.
We will also continue to use our independent voice to stand up for refugee rights and campaign for all people seeking safety in Scotland to receive the same warm welcome and support.
Andrii Kuslii, Ukrainian Consul in Edinburgh
Scotland’s commitment to supporting Ukrainian citizens in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine serves as a powerful symbol of solidarity. By offering comprehensive assistance, Scotland stands unwaveringly with the people of Ukraine, extending a message of hope and unity. The actions of the Scottish Government and its partners not only provide immediate relief but also send a powerful message to the world about the importance of coming together to support and protect vulnerable populations during times of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The people of Scotland and the Scottish Government deserve our deepest gratitude for their unwavering support during this tumultuous period for Ukraine.
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