Scotland and Wales have put themselves forward to become “super sponsors” of Ukrainian refugees – should the UK government in Westminster agree.
According to Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, Scotland could receive 3,000 Ukrainian asylum seekers immediately, amid concerns that the Tory government in London is “slow and cumbersome”.
But Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove insisted the UK-wide approach is the “fastest way” of helping Ukrainians, despite the UK government only issuing around 3,000 visas so far.
‘Minimum bureaucracy and maximum support’
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 said, according to PA news agency.
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, she added.
In the first wave, Scotland would expect to take in 3,000 and Wales 1,000.
Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford have already sets out their proposals in a letter to Mr Gove.
Scotland and Wales want UK government to accept their proposals
On Sunday, Sturgeon 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.”
She added the devolved administration did not “yet know all the details” of the UK’s proposed scheme, but said: “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 the Scottish government 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 (including from volunteers) and arrange safeguarding and support.
“I have said to UK government that we stand ready to welcome 3,000 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 government accepts this Scottish government proposal (which is being made by the Welsh government too) and allow us to get on with offering sanctuary to those fleeing the war.”