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12 Jul, 2022 08:06

Scotland pauses help for Ukrainian refugees

The Scottish government has run out of suitable accommodation and has suspended issuing visas for three months
Scotland pauses help for Ukrainian refugees

Starting Wednesday, Scotland will stop issuing visas to Ukrainians under its super-sponsorship program, the government announced on Monday. Demand for refugee aid surged after Wales paused its scheme last month.

In March, the UK granted visas to Ukrainians who claimed they where fleeing from Russian forces. They had to have sponsors who could vouch for them and provide accommodation for at least six months. Scotland and Wales launched their super-sponsorship programs, offering homes that didn’t require recipients to be matched with private hosts.

Scotland is currently providing sanctuary to over 7,000 displaced people under the arrangement. The figure is more than twice the 3,000 that the government committed to welcome when the program was launched in March.

A 20% surge in applications has forced Scotland to pause its program, Neil Gray, the Scottish minister responsible for Ukrainian refugees, said.

“With a recent decrease in people applying for private sponsorship in England, and Wales having paused their own scheme, the number of applications naming the Scottish Government as sponsor has increased considerably in recent weeks,” he said.

Wales suspended its variant of super sponsorship from June 10, after issuing over 2,000 visas.

The Scottish scheme will remain on pause for three months and subject to review afterwards, Gray said.

So far, a total of 21,256 visas for Ukrainians have been issued with a Scottish sponsor extending hospitality. Local authorities noted that it amounted to 20% of the total for the UK and constituted the highest per capita rate among the countries there.

The Scottish government announced several measures to provide accommodation for Ukrainians already granted visas, including renting a cruise ship, refurbishing unused council properties in North Lanarkshire and hiring more staff to deal with the surge of arrivals.