Scotland ready to welcome 3,000 Ukrainian refugees immediately – Sturgeon

The First Minister said the Scottish Government could be a ‘super sponsor’ for refugees fleeing Ukraine.

13 March 2022

Scotland “stands ready” to take 3,000 Ukrainian refugees immediately, Nicola Sturgeon said as she pledged the country could be a “super sponsor” for those fleeing the war.

The Scottish First Minister said that could help people looking to escape Ukraine get here quickly amid concerns the sponsorship scheme being organised by the UK Government could be “slow and cumbersome”.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove insisted this is the “fastest way” of providing people with support, with people in the UK being urged to sign up if they are prepared to take Ukrainians into their homes for up to six months.

While more than two million people are now thought to have left Ukraine following the Russian invasion, the UK Government has so far issued more than 3,000 visas to those looking to escape the conflict.

Ms Sturgeon said she had made clear to Westminster that the Scottish Government “stand ready to welcome 3,000 Ukrainians as an immediate step” and would then take “at least a proportionate share” of people coming to the UK.

“What matters most is getting them here quickly, safely and with minimum bureaucracy and maximum support,” she insisted.

The Scottish First Minister set out her position in a series of tweets at the same time as the UK Government set out details of its Homes for Ukraine scheme – which will take an uncapped number of refugees.

A website where people can register their interest in taking part in the scheme will open on Monday, which will see people open their homes to refugees, or alternatively offer them a separate property to stay in.

All those offering  accommodation will be vetted while Ukrainians coming to the UK under the scheme will undergo security checks.

Sponsors will have to provide homes or a spare room rent-free for a minimum stay of six months, but will will receive £350 per month in return.

Ms Sturgeon said it was “vital” that this community sponsorship should be “easy to use, fast, humane and safe”.

Having the Scottish and Welsh governments acting as super sponsors, would allow large numbers of refugees to come to those countries quickly, Ms Sturgeon added.

Michael Gove said the UK Government had now issued more than 3,000 visas to people looking to leave Ukraine and come to Britain (Steve Parsons/PA)

In the first wave, Scotland would expect to take in 3,000 and Wales 1,000 – with more welcomed in later waves.

Ms Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford have already sets out their proposals in a letter to Mr Gove.

On Sunday, the Scottish First Minister tweeted: “If UK gov is not willing (wrongly in my view) to waive visa requirements for Ukrainians seeking refuge as other countries have done, it is vital that its community sponsorship scheme is easy to use, fast, humane and safe.”

While she said the devolved administration did not “yet know all the details” of the UK’s proposed scheme, she added: “I am worried that it will be slow and cumbersome (people will need sponsors arranged before entry to UK), lack proper support and safeguarding, and not be sustainable for length of time people may need to be here.

“That is why @scotgov is offering to act as a ‘super sponsor’ – this would allow significant numbers to arrive here quickly and be temporarily accommodated while we work with local partners to arrange longer-term housing (inc from volunteers) and arrange safeguarding & support.

“I have said to UK gov that we stand ready to welcome 3000 Ukrainians as an immediate step – and then at least a proportionate share of total coming to UK overall. What matters most is getting them here quickly, safely and with minimum bureaucracy and maximum support.

“I hope UK gov accepts this @scotgov proposal (which is being made by Welsh gov too) and allow us to get on with offering sanctuary to those fleeing the war.”

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