More than 500 people fleeing Ukraine granted visa to come to Scotland

The figure has more than doubled in the past week and comes after Nicola Sturgeon branded the process as ‘unacceptably slow’.

Around 570 refugees fleeing Ukraine granted visa to come to Scotland iStock

More than 500 people fleeing Ukraine have been granted a visa to seek refuge in Scotland, according to the Home Office.

The figure has more than doubled in the past week and comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branded the process as “unacceptably slow”.

Statistics published by the UK Government on Friday revealed around 79,800 applications had been made to the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

As of Thursday, around 40,900 visas had been issued.

Of those granted under the sponsorship scheme, 566 were for Scotland – 35 of which were via the Scottish Government’s Super Sponsorship Scheme.

Around 116 of the refugees will be heading to Edinburgh. A further 38 will be staying in the Highlands, 37 in Fife and 32 in Glasgow.

For the full list by local authority area, click here.

Last week, just 210 of the visas specifically related to Scotland.

In response, Sturgeon described the number as “woefully small”.

The FM has previously pledged that Scotland “stands ready” to take in 3000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war with Russia.

As of Tuesday, around 12,000 people had already arrived in the UK under the visa schemes.

Some 10,800 people have entered under the Ukraine Family Scheme and 1200 under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

In response, the Refugee Council accused the UK Government of “choosing control over compassion”.

Chief executive Enver Solomon said Britons who are prepared to open up their homes have been left feeling “angry and frustrated that their gesture of support has been lost into a web of bureaucracy and chaos”.

He said the Government must waive visas as an immediate short-term measure and then introduce a “simplified emergency humanitarian visa process”.

He said: “These numbers confirm we have a Government, yet again, choosing control over compassion when it comes to granting refugees protection and one that appears to be totally out of step, not only with the British public, but the rest of Europe who have opened their doors to welcome Ukrainian families in desperate need.

“It’s clear that the visa schemes which were supposedly designed to ensure the safety of Ukrainians fleeing war and bloodshed are unfit for purpose.”

Home secretary Priti Patel denied that the visa requirements and checks were slowing the process.

In a pre-recorded interview with the BBC, which aired on Friday, she said: “I apologise with frustration myself. It takes time to start up a new route.”

She said it is “always easy to blame someone else” but security checks “are not the problem” when it comes to the time it is taking for Ukrainian refugees to reach the UK.

After being told by the BBC there is “huge frustration” among the public who are experiencing three to four-week delays and are blaming red tape for being unable to put people up, Patel replied: “They’re not seeing delays.

“We are processing and, as I’ve said as well, I’m streamlining processes.

“I streamlined the family scheme in less than a week, and we simplified that and we changed the way certain checks are done.

“Also, I’m working to automate where we can.”

Asked why Britain is playing “catch up” with other countries, Patel said comparisons with EU members are not “like for like”.

She added: “We want to give people the status and security of coming to our country along with the warm welcome.

“We have to ensure that they are protected and safeguarded in the United Kingdom as well.”

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