Following the latest from the Government on the situation in Ukraine, Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:
“Today’s announcement relaxing visa requirements for extended family members of Ukrainians living in the UK and a new sponsorship program is an important start. However, we are concerned that in reality it does not go far enough, and could mean that far fewer Ukrainians are actually able to reach safety in the UK than the Government claims. Sponsorship is a slow process and in recent years has only resulted in hundreds of refugees coming to the UK.
“A scheme offering humanitarian visas to Ukrainian families fleeing war and coming to the UK as refugees would be a far more effective way of offering sanctuary. The Government must also not rule out working with the UN in the coming months to put in place a robust resettlement scheme in the same way as has been done for Syrians and Afghans fleeing bloodshed.
“It is imperative that the Government ensures there are sufficient resources put in place for health, education and other services to support Ukrainians when they arrive, and that the difficulties Afghans have faced accessing healthcare, childcare and education are not repeated.
“While the focus is on Ukraine we must not forget that – under the Government’s Borders Bill – men, women and children, like those from Ukraine, embarking on terrifying journeys over land to flee war and persecution, will be treated as criminals on reaching our shores. We urge the Government to immediately rethink this cruel and harmful legislation.”