Ukraine Crisis: Three thousand refugees to arrive in Scotland 'as early as this weekend' as £15 million funding set up, says Nicola Sturgeon
However, the First Minister said: "But there is no good reason in my view for this agreement not to be reached.
"We hope and expect that it will be and, crucially, this is the basis on which we are now planning.”
In addition to financial support the UK Government will provide, the Scottish Government is allocating £15 million to support “immediate response”, Ms Sturgeon also announced.
Local authorities will be allocated just over £11 million of this funding with £2.25 million set aside for temporary accommodation and a further £1.4 million is being allocated to the Scottish Refugee Council for the expansion of their refugee integration service.
The First Minister said “urgent work” is underway to ensure the data from UK Government systems including from the visa application system.
The Scottish Government is also exploring pre-emptive arrival help for refugees such as travel to Scotland.
Immediate action is being taken to secure temporary accommodation as well as longer term housing arrangements through local authority and housing association properties as well as private sector and holiday accommodation.
Welcome hubs are also being established alongside local authorities, the police, health services and the Scottish Refugee Council to offer “practical help and assistance” with food, clothing, language assistance and sign-posting to other services.
The locations of these hubs will be confirmed when it is understood “exactly where” people will arrive, the First Minister said.
Ms Sturgeon said the challenges to resettle people are “significant” and said it will require “effective co-operation” with the UK Government.
It comes as the UK Government gave "in principle” support to ‘super sponsor’ schemes proposed by Nicola Sturgeon and the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford.
Scottish Government sponsorship would mean that people coming to Scotland from Ukraine do not need to be matched with individual sponsors before coming to the UK.
Ms Sturgeon said: "They would be able to come here for sanctuary and safety first.
"We will provide temporary accommodation and then with people already safely here...we will work at speed with partners, local councils, the Scottish Refugee Council, NHS, Disclosure Scotland and others to complete safeguarding checks, put in place wider health, education, practical and befriending support and arrange longer term accommodation."
The First Minister said the Scottish Government is “working to agree as quickly as possible the operational detail” of the sponsor plans.
She said: "Our aim is that our super sponsor route will run in parallel with the first phase of the wider UK.
"That should make it possible – and this is certainly our hope – for the first 3,000 displace Ukrainians to begin arriving in Scotland from as early as this weekend."
Detailed preparations for coordinating this response with the UK Government are being led by Neil Gray, Scotland’s Europe and National Affairs Minister.
In this response, five priorities will be covered: ensuring the Scottish Government gets the data needed from the UK Government, making contact with those coming to Scotland, making short term accommodation for refugees, working on longer term support including housing and community integration and establishing ‘Welcome Hubs’.
The First Minister said Scotland “stands firmly” with all governments including the UK to impose sanctions on Putin.
However, she said the “strong preference” of the Scottish Government was for the UK Government to waive visas for Ukrainian refugees to gain entry into the country.
Nonetheless, the First Minister said the Scottish Government will work with UK ministers to make the processes they have put in place “as effective as possible”.
The Scottish Government wish to “short circuit” the process to the UK Government Homes for Ukraine scheme by offering to sponsor three thousand initially.
"Longer term, we have given an uncapped commitment to support at least 10% of the total number who seek sanctuary in the UK.”
More than 100,000 people across the UK have already signed up to offer accommodation for Ukrainian, which Ms Sturgeon said demonstrates “the willingness of the public to help".
Ms Sturgeon thanked everyone who has offered to accommodate Ukrainians and those who are offering support through other means.
Yet, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland has to plan for longer term more sustainable accommodation for Ukrainians.
More than 3 million Ukrainian people (over 5% of the country’s population) are estimated to have fled their home country following Russia’s illegal invasion, according to the latest figures from the UN.
There has been much criticism from members of the public as well as organisations towards the UK not waiving visa requirements for refugees like many other countries have done.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and the changes we’ve made to the visa process are making it quicker and simpler for Ukrainians to come here, as well as ensuring those already here can stay.
“We are reuniting thousands of families and more applications are processed by the hour.
“The public rightly expect we keep them safe from security risks and our approach balances welcoming people quickly while ensuring those who could pose a threat to our safety are prevented from getting here.
“This week, the Government’s sponsorship route will open to allow Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK to come here and we will continue to work closely with our Ukrainian partners to deliver the measures we have put in place.”
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