UK urged to step up in offering refuge to Ukrainians fleeing invasion

Priti Patel said the UK is 'doing everything possible' to speed up efforts to grant visas to Ukrainian refugees.

UK urged to step up in offering refuge to Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion STV News

The UK has been urged to step up its efforts in offering refuge to Ukrainians fleeing the invasion of Russia.

It comes after it was revealed by the Home Office that only “around 50” visas had been granted under its Ukraine Family Scheme as of 10am on Sunday.

The scheme allows people to join their family members, or to extend their stay, in the UK.

Home secretary Priti Patel has pledged that the UK is “doing everything possible” to speed up efforts to grant visas to Ukrainian refugees.

However, there have been calls from across the political spectrum for the process to be accelerated.

Senior Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said the rate was “certainly not a success”.

Patel previously outlined security concerns after proposals to waive visas for Ukrainian refugees were rejected by the UK Government.

But, she explained that she is examining legal options to create a “humanitarian route” that would offer all Ukrainian refugees the right to come to the UK, regardless of whether they have family ties in the country or not.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also added her voice to calls for greater action to be taken.

She insisted that paperwork can be dealt with at a later stage.

“This just isn’t good enough,” the SNP leader wrote in response to the figures outlining that only around 50 visas had been granted under the UK scheme.

“With 1.5m already displaced from Ukraine, there is a desperate need for UK to step up – both on re-uniting families and offering refuge more generally.

“We must let people in – as other countries are doing – and deal with paperwork afterwards.”

Speaking on Monday, UK Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said the Government has made it “absolutely clear” it wants to support Ukrainians seeking refuge.

He acknowledged that “only small numbers have come so far” but “the process has only just started”.

He also said that the number of Ukrainians being granted visas for the UK will increase “very, very quickly” but the scale of the crisis is “unprecedented”.

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