Ukraine-Russia: Refugee reception centers set up in three regions of Scotland, minister says

Speaking before the Committee on the Constitution, Europe, External Relations and Culture, Neil Gray said the centers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cairnryan would provide hot meals, translation services and trauma care.

However, Mr Gray said he did not know how many people from Ukraine are currently in Scotland under the “super sponsorship” scheme, which allows Ukrainian refugees to come to Scotland under the UK-wide “Houses for Ukraine” scheme, without agreement from the volunteer opens your home to host a family.

Mr Gray said the data-sharing arrangement with the UK government has not yet begun.

A Ukrainian war refugee sits on a cot in a gymnasium in the small Bavarian village of Eichenau near Munich, southern Germany. Photo: Christoph Stasche/AFP via Getty Images

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Russo-Ukrainian Crisis: Scottish Government’s “Super Sponsor” Scheme for Ukraine…

At the meeting, Scottish Green MP Mark Raskell warned that thousands of Ukrainians already living in Scotland are “totally failing” by the UK government due to problems with visa schemes.

He said Ukrainians with seasonal work visas continue to be excluded from key humanitarian refugee programs set up by the UK government, leaving them stuck in precarious jobs, at risk of homelessness and unable to reunite with family from Ukraine.

“We have decided to act as a Super Sponsor in order to shorten the approval process and allow a significant number of displaced Ukrainians to arrive in Scotland without unnecessary delay.

“To prepare for this, we have set up reception centers to support displaced Ukrainians arriving in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cairnryan, where all those in need will find safe and comfortable accommodation and hot meals, and where local partnerships already exist to make assessing the need for additional services.

He said the government is doing its best to provide temporary and long-term housing for those who need it.

Mr Gray added: “As the First Minister said over the weekend, we will treat people with empathy, dignity and respect and Scotland will be their home for as long as they need it.”

Conservative MP Donald Cameron asked him about the number of refugees who have arrived in Scotland since the super sponsorship program opened last week.

Mr Gray said he did not know the number and added: “The data streams have not yet started the way we would like them to start. We don’t have information.

“I don’t think it’s because the UK government is hiding it from us.

“I just think that the speed with which the system was built – from the first minister’s concept one Friday to launch the next Friday – it took time for the system to go live.”

According to him, most of those who have arrived so far have not done so on the super sponsor route.

Mr Raskell said that while Ukrainian refugees arriving under the Homes for Ukraine or Ukrainian Family Scheme program are granted a three-year residence permit and full access to public funds, the only benefits provided by the UK government to Ukrainians with seasonal workers visas is the extension of their visas. to December 2022. They are still excluded from the Family Scheme of Ukraine and denied access to social security.

Read more: Crisis in Russia and Ukraine: Scottish government’s ‘super sponsorship’ scheme opens for Ukrainian refugees

He said: “We know that there are thousands of Ukrainian citizens working on farms across Scotland who are absolutely scared for their families and loved ones in Ukraine, but there is nothing they can do to keep them safe. I have heard horrifying stories of Ukrainian farm workers in Fife and Perthshire being powerless to get their young children out of the war zone – this is nothing short of a scandal.

“The UK Home Office is fully capable of fixing this. But let’s be clear: the Tories in Westminster have decided to deprotect some Ukrainian refugees. And the consequences are catastrophic.”

He added: “This is not what a functioning refugee protection system looks like. All those who seek refuge from the war in Ukraine in Scotland need proper protection and support, whether they are already here as workers or have recently arrived via new routes.

“The humanitarian crisis is not the time to put the fine print on visas ahead of human lives. The UK government must act urgently to give seasonal workers the same rights and protections as other Ukrainian refugees.” Mr Gray said the Scottish Government was in lively discussions with the UK Home Office on the matter.

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