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Sturgeon pledges £15m to help Ukrainian refugees arriving in Scotland

The money is the Scottish Government’s ‘immediate response’ to the humanitarian crisis prompted by the Russian invasion.

16 March 2022

Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war could arrive in Scotland this weekend, Nicola Sturgeon said as she announced £15 million of Government funding is being made available to help them.

The Scottish First Minister said there will be “challenges” involved in “resettling thousands of displaced and traumatised people in such a short space of time”.

But she said she is “confident” Scotland will “provide not just refuge but a warm welcome and a helping hand to people whose lives have been ripped apart”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We will open our doors and we will also open our hearts.”

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland will ‘open our hearts’ to those fleeing the war in Ukraine (Robert Perry/PA)

Her comments came in a statement to Holyrood after earlier confirming she would be “willing to step up” and open her own home to a refugee, if this is deemed to be necessary and appropriate.

However she added that someone escaping the conflict in Ukraine may not want to “come and live with the First Minister with all the scrutiny that might come with that”.

With cities in Ukraine having come under attack from Russian forces for three weeks now, Ms Sturgeon described Russian President Vladimir Putin as both “evil” and a “war criminal”.

But she said Scots are “very, very keen” to offer support to those fleeing the conflict.

The First Minister has already said Scotland could welcome 3,000 refugees from Ukraine in the first phase, before taking in at least 10% of those who come to the UK.

A “super sponsor” scheme put forward by the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland aims to get Ukrainians to these countries quicker, by providing them with temporary accommodation while a more permanent place is found for them.

That would mean refugees do not need to be matched with a sponsor with whom they can stay before coming to the UK.

“They would be able to come here to sanctuary and safety first,” the First Minister told MSPs.

She said it should be “possible” and was “certainly our hope” for “the first 3,000 displaced Ukrainians to begin arriving in Scotland from as early as this weekend”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “This is dependent on UK Government agreement, only the Home Office can issue the visas.

“But there is no good reason in my view for this agreement not to be reached, we hope and expect that it will be and crucially this is the basis on which we are now planning.”

To help with this work, she said the Scottish Government is “allocating £15 million to support our immediate response”.

The bulk of this cash – more than £11 million – will go to local councils, with £2.25 million being used to pay for temporary accommodation and £1.4 million for the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC).

The First Minister visited the charity’s Glasgow headquarters earlier on Wednesday, where she was asked if she would take in a refugee herself.

Ms Sturgeon said she would “do that if that is necessary”.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited the Scottish Refugee Council’s headquarters in Glasgow (Robert Perry/PA)

She added: “I’m not going to ask other people to do things I wouldn’t be prepared to do myself.”

She stressed that “everybody’s circumstances are different”, adding: “I don’t think we should get into a position of making people feel bad if they are not in a position to offer accommodation.”

Speaking about potentially taking someone in herself, she said: “In my case I am willing to do that if that is necessary and if that was thought appropriate.

“For somebody coming from Ukraine it may be that they wouldn’t want to come and live with the First Minister with all the scrutiny that might come with that.

“But certainly if that was something that was necessary and considered to be appropriate, I am certainly willing to step up and do whatever I can.”

Meanwhile, work is under way to establish welcome hubs where refugees can receive food and clothing, health care, advice and language support.

Decisions on where these hubs will be based will be made when more details are known about where and when refugees will start arriving in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said.

She told Holyrood: “The challenges of resettling thousands of displaced and traumatised people in such a short space of time are significant and they should not be underestimated.

“But for all the undoubted challenges, I am confident that Scotland will live up to our humanitarian obligations.”

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