The Ukrainian Refugee Crisis began after February 24, 2022, since when a total of over 7.9 million Ukrainians have fled their homes for other countries (as of today, at least 5.9 million Ukrainians are internally displaced), as most of fled to Poland (1.55 million), Germany (1.02 million) and at least 2.8 million have gone to Russia, although Russia has been accused of forcibly deporting Ukrainians into the Russian Federation, and then declaring them as refugees. Mike Wong looks at what has happened to Ukrainian refugees in the UK.
In the case of the UK, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UK has nearly 152,000 refugees from Ukraine. Currently there is UK government scheme to pay people to host Ukranian refugees rent free, which was set up by former British Primer Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The UK is still being criticised for issuing too few visas to Ukrainian refugees
The British government allows Ukrainians who have family in the UK or have been sponsored by a British household to stay for up to three years, but at the same time, the UK is still being criticised for issuing too few visas to Ukrainian refugees. There have been more ideas and proposals on how to allow more Ukrainian refugees to safely stay in the UK, and not have them hampered by visa and asylum restrictions.
One of the ideas proposed within the UK was to use the sanctioned Russian oligarchs’ assets to house Ukrainian refugees. There would be obstacles into allowing Ukrainian refugees to stay, even temporarily, in the assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs. Michael Gove admitted as much when he stated that there would be a “high legal bar to cross” into allowing this decision to be officially implemented, but nonetheless stated, “if we can use it [sanctioned property] in order to help others, let’s do that.”
More work needs to be done in distributing the appropriate resources to help Ukrainian refugees
Also, the idea of allowing cruise ships, hotel rooms and public facilities to house Ukrainian refugees was implemented by Scotland. Scotland also designated itself as a ‘super sponsor’ by issuing more than 16,800 visas, whilst Wales, on the other hand, issued 4,611 visas as part of its ‘super sponsor’ scheme. Both countries had been forced to temporarily pause the scheme (Wales in June, Scotland in July) as both Scotland and Wales were struggling to find long-term resources to sustain a larger number of refugees.
In conclusion, the UK has improved its attitude on accepting more Ukrainian refugees. It is apparent that much more work needs to be done in distributing the appropriate resources to help Ukrainian refugees, and to ensure they can apply for the right to stay longer as well as access housing and other support in the long term.
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