Over 10 days after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, Home Office reports show that only around 300 Ukrainian refugees have been granted visas to come to the UK (as of 8 March) – despite over 13,500 applying to the scheme.
As Ukrainians flee for safety from Putin’s war crimes and his brutal invasion, the UK government’s response is simply not good enough. It must put people first, and deal with paperwork later.
The UK government must waive visas for Ukrainian refugees
Scotland is ready to welcome refugees, and the Scottish Government is committed to working alongside local authorities to support Ukrainian refugees to settle in Scotland.
But the UK government’s insufficient response is making this difficult, and is creating inhumane and unnecessary hurdles for those seeking refuge. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “inhumane” and “indefensible”.
The UK government must urgently waive visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals who want to seek refuge in the UK.
🇺🇦 The @ukhomeoffice must immediately lift visa requirements for any Ukrainian seeking refuge here. Give entry now on humanitarian grounds & sort paperwork later. Ireland has already enacted such an approach. Continued application of an inhumane UK immigration system indefensible https://t.co/qrJtGHrTnz
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) February 27, 2022
There have also been reports of Ukrainian refugees turned away at Calais, and a complete lack of official British help on the ground for Ukrainians wanting to get into the UK.
Instead, they’re told they must travel to Brussels or Paris just to submit an application and reports say it’s difficult to book appointments online, as none are available. The French interior minister called it “inhumane” and urged the UK government to “put their rhetoric into action”.
We condemn the turning away of Ukrainian refugees at Calais by the UK Home Office. The UK Government is not doing anywhere near enough and it must act now!
— The SNP (@theSNP) March 7, 2022
In contrast to the UK, European countries are stepping up to the challenge
EU countries nearer Ukraine, especially Poland, have welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees and dropped any requirements for visas for Ukrainians – matching their words of solidarity with real action.
Ireland, for example, have already welcomed over 1,300 Ukrainian refugees since the war began – a country with a population 14 times smaller than the UK, taking at least 4 times the number of refugees.
🚨 While Russian oligarchs are being given time to sell up, this UK government is closing the door to refugees. We must do better.
📢 The UK government must step up and waive visas for Ukrainians fleeing war and terror. pic.twitter.com/hjdZOuLczI
— The SNP (@theSNP) March 4, 2022
It’s time to scrap the Tories’ Nationality and Borders Bill
The Tories’ cruel, anti-refugee Nationality and Borders Bill criminalises those who seek refugee protection in the UK, outside regular routes.
An overwhelming majority of MSPs from all parties – apart from the Scottish Tories – have voted in the Scottish Parliament to reject the UK’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which has also been heavily criticised by multiple charities.
The Scottish Refugee Council. among other organisations, said the Tories’ Bill violates international law and basic human decency. It must be urgently scrapped and the UK government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy must end once and for all.
The Conservative’s hateful anti-refugee bill will be debated today & tomorrow. Thanks to @scotrefcouncil & many others for setting out all the ways this violates both international law and basic decency.
— Stuart McDonald MP (@Stuart_McDonald) July 19, 2021