Nicola Sturgeon has called on the UK Government to scrap visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens fleeing conflict with immediate effect.
In a tweet on Sunday, the First Minister said the Home Office must give entry now on humanitarian grounds “to any Ukrainian seeking refuge in the UK”, and to “sort paperwork later”.
She described the UK immigration system as “inhumane” and “indefensible.”
Sturgeon pointed to Ireland, whose justice minister Helen McEntee said on Sunday that her department had reacted quickly to put in place a visa waiver scheme for Ukrainian nationals hoping to enter Ireland.
Chief executive of Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) Sabir Zazai echoed the First Minister’s comments, saying: “The Home Office must act now.”
Mr Zazai said SRC is prepared to work with the Scottish Government, the Home Office, Migration Scotland and others “to reach a hand of friendship to those fleeing Ukraine”.
The SNP leader’s comments come as thousands of people took to the streets of Scotland to condemn Vladimir Putin’s aggressive invasion of its neighbour.
From Edinburgh to Glasgow, Oban to Orkney, campaigners across the country have shown their support for the citizens of Ukraine.
In a statement late on Sunday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed any Ukrainian person settled in the UK will be able to bring “immediate” members of their family to join them in Britain.
Downing Street said this will “benefit many thousands of people who at this moment are making desperate choices about their future”.
Earlier, foreign secretary Liz Truss said the UK has always welcomed refugees fleeing from war, but did not say how soon the country will welcome people from Ukraine or how many will be accepted.
Truss has insisted her team is “urgently” looking at what more it can do.
The UK Government has faced intense criticism over its failure so far to relax the visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals.