UK offers sanctuary to sick Ukrainian children as refugee scheme expanded

Boris Johnson says the UK will ‘pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence’ after an attack on a military base near the Polish border.

14 March 2022

The UK has announced it is providing cancer treatment for 21 seriously ill Ukrainian children as Britons were urged to open their homes to people fleeing the war.

The children and their immediate family members arrived from Poland on Sunday evening and will be assessed before being sent to NHS hospitals to continue their care.

Announcing their arrival, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I am proud that the UK is offering lifesaving medical care to these Ukrainian children, who have been forced out of their home country by the Russian invasion while undergoing medical treatment.”

The children’s arrival came after a Russian attack on a military training base near Yavoriv in western Ukraine, less than 15 miles (24km) from the border with Poland, a Nato member.

During a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, Mr Johnson “said the UK would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence, working with partners including at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) in London”, a No 10 spokesman said.

Representatives from Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway will attend the summit of the northern European security coalition.

Mr Johnson said Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “barbaric actions” were “testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity”.

People keen to offer refugees shelter in the UK can register their interest in sponsoring Ukrainians through the Government’s new humanitarian scheme from Monday.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has said the process of matching Britons with people fleeing the conflict will take place from Friday, while he expects the first refugees to use the new route will make their way to the UK by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, the UK will supply Ukraine with more than 500 portable generators to provide energy for essential services, including at hospitals and shelters.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the process of matching Britons with people fleeing the conflict will begin on Friday (Jeff Overs/PA)

Mr Johnson said they will help ease the power cuts currently crippling the country.

During his call with Mr Zelensky, the men also “condemned the murders of Brent Renaud and countless innocent Ukrainians, and the abduction of the mayors of Dniprorudne and Melitopol”, Downing Street said.

It was reported on Sunday that Mr Renaud, an acclaimed US filmmaker, was killed after Russian forces opened fire on his vehicle near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Mr Zelensky has accused Russia of kidnapping the mayor of Melitopol, a port city in the south of Ukraine.

And Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Sunday that “Russian war criminals” had “abducted another democratically elected Ukrainian mayor, head of Dniprorudne Yevhen Matveyev”.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK was “doing all we can to support including defensive weapons and humanitarian aid” after speaking to her Ukrainian counterpart Mr Kuleba.

Mr Kuleba said the pair had talked about “next steps to apply more sanctions on Russia”.

He tweeted: “Pressure must increase until Russia ceases its meaningless aggression and stops barbaric war crimes. Grateful to the UK for stepping up support for Ukraine.”

Mr Johnson is preparing to embark on a series of meetings with Nordic and Baltic leaders this week as he seeks to bolster European resilience following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During this week’s JEF summit in London, he will urge leaders to work together to ensure no further nations fall victim to Mr Putin’s aggression, No 10 said.

Mr Johnson will host the group for dinner at his official country residence, Chequers, on Monday night.


The coalition will then meet in London on Tuesday, before the Prime Minister is joined by the leaders of Finland and Sweden at Downing Street in the afternoon.

Earlier on Sunday, it was disclosed that more than 3,000 visas had been issued to Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK, with “tens of thousands” potentially set to benefit from the new humanitarian scheme.

Mr Gove also announced that local authority areas would be entitled to more than £10,000 per Ukrainian refugee using the fresh route to the UK.

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