More than 100,000 refugees arrive in UK after fleeing war in Ukraine
More than 100,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine have received sanctuary in the UK through its visa schemes, according to Government figures.
Some 104,000 people had arrived in the UK under Ukraine visa schemes as of Monday, figures published by the Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration show.
The milestone was reached more than four months after the Government’s visa schemes were launched in March.
The Government thanked members of the public for their generosity in opening their homes to those seeking safety.
The total includes 31,300 people under the family scheme, and 72,700 people under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme.
Overall, there have been almost 200,000 visa applications, meaning just over half of those who have applied have arrived in the UK.
The figures show that, as of Tuesday, around 198,200 applications have been made for visas, and 166,200 visas have been issued.
These include 55,000 applications under the family scheme, of which 47,200 visas have been granted, and 143,200 applications under the sponsorship scheme, of which 119,000 visas have been granted.
You support us at every stage, spend your time and energy, pay attention and give care. I cannot put into words how grateful I am
Maria Kartashova, now living in Surrey with a host family
Overall, 62.6% of those who have been issued with visas under either scheme have reached the UK.
Just over half (52.5%) of those who have applied for visas under the schemes have arrived.
These allow those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine to come to the UK for up to three years.
The family scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their relatives to join other family already living in the UK, while the sponsorship scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their relatives to come to the UK if they have a sponsor who can provide accommodation.
From Thursday, the Government will consider new applications under the sponsorship scheme from unaccompanied children who wish to come to the UK without a parent or guardian, providing they have parental consent.
Maria Kartashova, who lives with her host in Surrey, said the UK public is giving “more than help” to Ukrainians.
She said: “You support us at every stage, spend your time and energy, pay attention and give care. I cannot put into words how grateful I am.”
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Greg Clark thanked everyone who has welcomed Ukrainians into their homes.
He said: “Behind this milestone however are 100,000 stories of pain – families split apart and forced to leave their fathers, sons and brothers.
“That is why we want peace and security in Ukraine so that its brave people can be safe at home again.”
Refugees minister Lord Richard Harrington said: “We would not be able to welcome 100,000 people from Ukraine to our shores without generous people around the country opening their doors.
“It is important that we recognise the selfless work of the public to help Ukrainians integrate into their communities.
“We understand families are having to make difficult decisions to leave their homes – which is why it is important we took the time to get this right to ensure we can continue offering safety to as many Ukrainians as possible.”
We remain concerned that proper support needs to be in place to make the schemes as successful as possible
Tamsin Baxter, Refugee Council
Tamsin Baxter, executive director of external affairs at the Refugee Council, praised the public’s “truly inspiring” generosity, but said the schemes have been beset by delays and bureaucracy.
“The public mood has often been ahead of Government policy, and we remain concerned that proper support needs to be in place to make the schemes as successful as possible,” she said.
“It is a matter of deep regret that there is a sharp contrast between the care and compassion rightly shown for Ukrainian refugees and other elements of the refugee and asylum system.
“As the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul approaches, thousands of Afghans remain trapped, split from their families either in hotels in the UK or in Afghanistan itself. The Government’s Rwanda scheme is cruel and inhumane.”
The Local Government Association said councils are working hard to help new arrivals, and sponsors have played an “incredible role” by opening up their homes.
Its chairman, councillor James Jamieson, said: “Both they and their guests need continued support to help people to start to rebuild their lives and plan ahead, and to ensure more people feel able to step forward to offer their help and their houses as arrivals continue.”