Leader - Gove plan must help UK refugee response

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven Europe to its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Around 1.5 million have fled to Poland and the country’s president Andrzej Duda said yesterday his country could end up taking in 2.5 million.

Other countries neigbouring Ukraine are seeing tens of thousands cross their borders daily, and the European Union is allowing Ukrainians three-year residencies without visas.

The UK Government has faced criticism, including from its own MPs, over the speed and scale of its response, with continued calls for visa requirements to be waived for all Ukrainians fleeing the war.

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Ministers have cited security concerns for not doing so, and there are concerns within Ukraine over too many fleeing too far from home to help the country rebuild after the conflict.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has said tens of thousands of people could come to the UK under a scheme to help those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
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Nevertheless, the number of Ukrainians who have found refuge in the UK so far – 3,000 – seems pitifully low in comparison with other European countries.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove unveiled a scheme yesterday aimed at increasing those numbers to “tens of thousands”.

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The Homes for Ukraine programme will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to bring people escaping the war to safety, even if they have no ties to the UK.

Local authorities will be entitled to more than £10,000 per refugee, with “additional payments” available to support school-age children in the education system.

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Britons offering accommodation to people fleeing Ukraine through the new route will receive a “thank you” payment of £350 per month.

But there are concerns over how effective this programme will prove. Robina Qureshi, director of Glasgow-based refugee homelessness charity Positive Action in Housing, has branded the scheme a “gimmick” and a “distraction”.

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Ms Qureshi said the problem is not a lack of hosts but visa restrictions that remain in place and drive some to desperate measures to reach UK shores.

The challange facing the UK Government is to match rhetoric with action through a significant increase in the numbers of Ukrainian refugees finding sanctuary here.



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