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Scotland 'stands ready' to take in 3,000 Ukrainian refugees immediately, says Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish First Minister said she’s concerned the UK government’s refugee scheme is “slow and cumbersome”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on a visit to a Ukrainian cultural centre in Edinburgh last week
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on a visit to a Ukrainian cultural centre in Edinburgh last week

SCOTLAND “STANDS READY” to take in 3,000 Ukrainian refugees immediately, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said as she pledged the country could be a “super sponsor” for those fleeing the war.

The Scottish National Party leader said the proposal could help refugees get to Scotland quickly amid concerns that the UK government’s refugee scheme could be “slow and cumbersome”.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove insisted the government’s approach 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.

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 that allows people to register their interest in taking part in the scheme will open on Monday.

Scottish residents can either open their homes to refugees or alternatively offer them a separate property to stay in.

All those offering accommodation will be vetted and 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 receive £350 per month in return.

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, Sturgeon added.

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

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

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This morning, 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.”

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