Sturgeon criticises 'woefully small' number of visas granted to Ukrainian refugees
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged the UK Government to speed up the process for granting visas to refugees after it emerged that just under 5,000 have been issued under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
According to UK Government figures, there have been 32,200 applications under the scheme, but just 4,700 visas granted, with 210 of those relating to Scotland.
A further 24,000 visas have been issued for Ukrainians who are either extending their stay in the UK or joining family members already living here.
Sturgeon called for the sponsorship process to be improved, calling it “unacceptably slow”.
She said: “Our Warm Scottish Welcome programme stands ready to support people fleeing the illegal war in Ukraine and provide a place of safety. However the latest figures show that the number of visas granted is woefully small.
“Two weeks on from opening the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the process of translating applications into visas is unacceptably slow. There are well over three million displaced Ukrainians - a few hundred visas just isn’t good enough. The UK government is letting the people of Ukraine down and also letting down people across Scotland who have opened their homes.
“There is a clear and urgent need to speed up the processing of applications and the granting of visas. It is essential that the UK Government addresses these lengthy delays to provide rapid support to those in need.”
Despite an enthusiastic response from the public to the Homes for Ukraine scheme, some charities have warned of safeguarding concerns for vulnerable women and children arriving in the UK.