Failure to waive Ukrainian visa requirements could be ’embarrassing’ for UK

Nicola Sturgeon called for the Prime Minister to change the rules.

28 February 2022

Failure to waive visa requirements for Ukrainians seeking refuge could be “embarrassing” to the UK Government, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon called on the Prime Minister to step in and allow anyone fleeing the Russian invasion to come to the UK, saying “the paperwork can be sorted out later on”.

The UK Government announced on Sunday that only those with immediate family in Britain would be able to seek refuge.

Speaking during a visit to Aberdeen on Monday, the First Minister said: “I think the UK’s current position on refuge for people fleeing from Ukraine is unacceptable and if it doesn’t change and change substantially very soon, it risks – at a time when we should be building maximum unity – being embarrassing for the UK.

“I am calling on the Prime Minister, I am appealing to the Prime Minister to follow the example of Ireland, follow the example of the entire European Union and have a situation, effectively, where anyone from Ukraine who is seeking refuge in the UK is allowed entry to the UK with no visa requirements, and the paperwork can be sorted later on.

“The position announced by the Prime Minister last night restricting that kind of approach not even just to family members of people already here but to immediate family members, is woefully inadequate.

“It doesn’t meet the moment. This is a time to step up and do everything we can to support Ukrainians and I hope we will see significant movement from the UK Government over the course of today.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government announced it would provide £4 million in humanitarian aid funding along with medical supplies to Ukraine.

Ms Sturgeon announced on Monday that officials were assessing the best route for the funding to quickly reach the country, which has been fighting off a Russian invasion since last week.

The funding will support health, water and sanitation and shelter for those in the country, including people who have been forced to leave their homes.

Ms Sturgeon said “words of support are not enough” as she announced the funding, adding that Scotland would provide “as much practical support as possible”.

Medical supplies, including anaesthetic machines, syringe pumps and bandages will also be sent, in accordance with a list of urgently needed equipment provided by the Ukrainian consulate in Edinburgh, while further work is under way to identify other supplies that will be needed.

“Scotland has given its unqualified support for Ukrainian independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and to the people of Ukraine as they bravely resist the unprovoked and illegal aggression of the Russian regime,” the First Minister said.

“As a responsible and compassionate global citizen we will help with an initial £4 million in financial aid to provide essential help to those in desperate need.

“And we are also working with the Ukrainian government to provide medical supplies from stocks we hold. We are co-ordinating with other UK nations to ensure that these supplies get to where they are desperately needed as quickly as possible.

“There will be much more that we need to do in the days to come. But one thing is already clear: words of support are not enough. Ukraine needs our active help and support now, and we will provide as much practical support as possible, starting immediately.”

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