Scotland suspends Ukrainian refugee sponsorship program due to housing shortages | Scotland

Scotland must suspend its Ukrainian refugee sponsorship program for three months as it faces a lack of suitable accommodation, the government has announced.

Pausing the program “would ensure that the displaced people who are already here and those who will arrive in the coming months will be safe and supported for as long as they need it, after the dangers they have faced at home,” one says. government statement.

So far, 4,666 Ukrainians out of a total of 7,000 who have arrived in Scotland have done so under the “super-sponsor system”, which was launched on March 18. The country plans to welcome 18,000 more people in the coming months, meaning it will have issued more visas than England, Wales and Northern Ireland per capita.

If the numbers continue at this rate, local authorities may have to resort to emergency accommodation, which the government said was ‘not a sustainable solution’ and would fall short of ‘the warm welcome of the Scots’ they sought to offer to traumatized and vulnerable people.

The Scottish government has asked the UK government to waive all visa requirements. Under the current scheme – which is due to be suspended on Wednesday – people applying for a UK visa can select the Scottish government as a sponsor. Only once the UK Home Office approves the application can the refugee travel to Scotland.

As of July 5, government figures show visa applications citing Scotland as a sponsor rose 21 per cent on the previous week, with visas issued up 27 per cent and arrivals under the sponsorship up 20%.

With numbers set to rise, the Scottish Government has secured additional accommodation in hotels and university campuses, and recently chartered a passenger ship to provide additional temporary accommodation with 739 rooms for six months from July.

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North Lanarkshire Council has also announced plans to reinstate two residential tower blocks, previously about to be demolished, to house Ukrainian refugees. The council said 200 homes would be available for use in six weeks.

“I know the people of North Lanarkshire will welcome those facing such an uncertain time with their usual warmth and generosity, and I’m glad we can act quickly to help,” said Jordan Linden, the council leader of the North Lanarkshire.

Scotland’s announcement comes after the Welsh government suspended a similar scheme on June 10. The three-month break in Scotland would not affect the approximately 18,000 sponsorship scheme applicants who had not yet arrived, the government said.

The UK government’s Homes for Ukraine program – which matches refugees with families in England – has been marred by a series of problems. In May, it was revealed that the government was working to relocate hundreds of Ukrainians granted visas under the program because the people they were supposed to stay with had been deemed “unsuitable”.

Neil Graya Scottish minister responsible for Ukrainian refugees, said the temporary break was “obviously we didn’t want to” but would ensure Scotland continues “to provide the welcome Ukrainians deserve”.

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