It has been a devastating week for the people of Ukraine. Although it did not come as a surprise, we were all horrified by Putin’s manic aggression. A terrible human tragedy is unfolding on our doorstep, and we must stand firmly together with the people of Ukraine.
It is imperative that we support Ukraine in order to protect ourselves. By military means through NATO and together with the EU, the US and other allies, impose the most punitive sanctions against the Putin regime.
But we must not forget about the human losses and humanitarian response.
We must work with other countries to support those who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of this illegal and unprovoked invasion.
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We can already see long lines of cars; families are desperate to escape before it’s too late. Ukrainians in the UK will watch in despair as a nightmare scenario unfolds for friends and family. We are watching millions of displaced people.
Putin is counting on the disunity and inconsistency of the West. We have to prove him wrong.
This crisis requires a coordinated humanitarian response. Anything less will play into the hands of Putin and further destabilize our continent.
That is why I wrote to the Foreign and Home Ministers yesterday, urging them to make ambitious commitments to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK. This should include the withdrawal of the Citizenship and Borders Bill, which would criminalize Ukrainian refugees and any others who come to the UK seeking asylum.
The UK has a history of providing asylum to those forced to flee conflict and persecution, and we must not turn our backs on the Ukrainian people in our hour of need.
The government should work with the UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies to ensure a safe exit from Ukraine for those fleeing the violence. Many will seek asylum in neighboring countries, and we must help these countries provide the support and housing these refugees need.
The United States government also warned that “Russian forces are compiling lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps” and that this is likely to target “Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists.” , and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ individuals.” Ukrainians from Putin’s hit list should not be abandoned and given to Russian troops to be torn to pieces
But we’ve been here before.
In Afghanistan, we saw how the military campaign created a humanitarian crisis. And the government just didn’t do enough.
The Afghan resettlement program only opened four months after it was announced. Too many Afghan evacuees are stuck in Interior Ministry limbo, in unsuitable quarters, and still show no sign of the indefinite leave they were promised.
One of the significant shortcomings of the ACRS was the government’s inability to involve local governments in the design and development of the scheme and provide them with the necessary funding. Local councils play a critical role in the successful resettlement of refugees, and they are already under enormous financial pressure.
These failures should not be repeated in the event of a Ukrainian refugee crisis.
The government should work closely with the councils and involve them in planning from the very beginning. The resettlement scheme must also include a full five-year funding package for each person the council resettles.
Today my heart is turned to the people of Ukraine. My fellow Liberal Democrats and I will continue to pressure the government to coordinate international humanitarian assistance.
Putin’s actions threaten to create a humanitarian crisis in Europe of unthinkable proportions. The UK must take action to address this issue now.