Anger over 'woeful' Ukraine refugee visa approvals as fewer than 600 are cleared for Scotland
New figures released by the Home Office
The number of visas issued to allow Ukrainian refugees to travel to Scotland is now approaching 600, according to the Home Office.
The figure comes more than one month into the crisis and following sustained pressure on the UK Government to speed up the process and drop visa requirements for those fleeing the continued assaults by Russian forces, who are now accused of war crimes.
A total of 566 applications have been granted for travel to Scotland as of 7 April. Of these, 40 have been approved under the Scottish Government's super-sponsor scheme, which relies on clearance by the Home Office.
Across the UK as a whole, 40,900 visas have been issued by home secretary Priti Patel's department. Only 12,000 people have actually arrived and a total of 79,800 applications have been received.
Of these, most bids – 43,600 – were made under Homes for Ukraine, which allows members of the public to provide accommodation and act as sponsors for non-family members.
Patel has apologised for what she calls "frustrating" visa delays and refugees minister Lord Harrington has said "not enough" applicants have been granted entry.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for "real progress" in speeding the process up and Labour shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said the low approval numbers are "scandalous and shameful".
Gary Christie of the Scottish Refugee Council said of Patel's apology that "apologies alone do not bring people to safety". Calling the scale of progress "woeful", he went on: "In continuing to insist on operating a visa scheme for people fleeing this dreadful conflict, the UK is an international outlier. Ireland has brought in a visa waiver and the EU enacted a temporary protection directive to allow people to be brought to safety first and paperwork to be considered later. This is not the time for sluggish bureaucracy."