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by Kirsteen Paterson
11 March 2022
Nicola Sturgeon urges UK to waive visa restrictions for Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian refugees walk from to Isaccea in Romania after crossing the border

Nicola Sturgeon urges UK to waive visa restrictions for Ukrainian refugees

Scottish Labour, Lib Dems and Greens back call to Downing Street

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged Boris Johnson to take immediate action to resettle Ukrainian refugees in a letter backed by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens. 

The letter, released this afternoon, shows all but one of Holyrood’s five parties united in a joint call for humanitarian efforts as the Russian assault on Ukraine continues. 

The Scottish Conservatives are the only party represented in the parliament who have not signed. 

In the letter, SNP leader Sturgeon tells the Prime Minister that a lack of clarity from the UK Government around settlement programmes and complex visa processes is preventing Scotland from welcoming refugees fleeing the conflict. 

More than 2m people have now left Ukraine, while an estimated 2.5m remain internally displaced within the besieged country. 

The letter – also sent to Liz Truss, Michael Gove, Priti Patel, Alister Jack and Angus Robertson – urges Johnson’s government to waive visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals seeking refuge in the UK and for the establishment of a comprehensive and funded settlement programme and support package. 

Sturgeon said: “As we witness the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II, and with more than 2m Ukrainians now having fled since the Russian invasion began, the UK must take action and respond fully, with humanity and compassion. 

"It is neither reasonable nor morally acceptable to expect people fleeing war to go through complex bureaucratic processes in order to reach safety within the UK. We must provide sanctuary first and treat people with respect and humanity. 

"Scotland stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and deeply wishes to provide them with practical support, aid and refuge. We are ready to provide that to people in need right now. 

"More than a week after it was announced on 1 March, we urge you to set out the details of the humanitarian sponsorship pathway, including when it will open and confirmation that the UK Government will provide the flexibility and the financial support needed to allow us in Scotland and communities across the UK to contribute." 

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