Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Wales, Scotland Want to Be ‘Super Sponsors’ for Ukrainian Refugees

Sun 13 Mar 2022 | 01:25 PM
Ahmad El-Assasy

Wales and Scotland's first ministers, Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon, have stated that they are willing to act as "super sponsors" for Ukrainian migrants.

The UK government is set to launch a scheme in which inpiduals and organisations can sponsor refugees to enter the country.

However, the first ministers of Wales and Scotland have written to Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, saying they want to "maximise" their contribution and act as "super sponsors."

In a letter to Gove, Wales and Scotland's first ministers also reiterated their demand that all visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals attempting to enter the UK be waived.

Super sponsorship, according to the governments of Holyrood and Cardiff, will allow Ukrainians to enter each nation swiftly and be accommodated temporarily while they work with local partners to provide longer-term housing, safeguarding, and access to resources.

"We are still expecting full details of the planned community sponsorship structure," the Scottish First Minister added.

"If the UK government continues to refuse to suspend visa restrictions, it is critical that this scheme runs smoothly and efficiently, allowing people to enter the UK as soon as feasible."

"However, I am concerned that requiring people to be paired with an inpidual sponsor prior to being given entrance to the UK will be slow and inefficient."

"It is for this reason that the First Minister of Wales and I have proposed a 'super sponsor.'" We propose that our governments serve as initial 'super sponsors,' allowing significant numbers of people to swiftly arrive in our inpidual countries."

In the first wave, Wales and Scotland's first ministers predicted that Scotland would receive 3000 people and Wales would receive 1000. Later waves would be open to more people, according to the proposals.

Both first ministers wrote to the Levelling Up Secretary, saying it was "neither rational nor morally acceptable" to expect people fleeing violence to go through complicated bureaucratic processes to reach safety in the UK.

"The UK Government should follow the lead of European countries such as the Republic of Ireland by abolishing all visa requirements for any Ukrainian nationals seeking shelter in the UK, as well as enforcing the temporary protection provisions," they added.

Both Sturgeon and Drakeford asked for more clarity on financing arrangements for local governments, claiming that a per-person funding mechanism, similar to the Syrian and Afghan schemes, is needed to help with relocation and integration costs.

"We are completely dedicated to playing our full role in responding to this crisis," the letter stated, "and are requesting the fullest flexibility to build clear plans based on evolving what has worked in the past."

"The Scottish and Welsh governments, in collaboration with local governments and other partners, are best situated to deliver and guarantee that the arrangements put in place are secure, long-term, and provide true refuge to inpiduals escaping war."

There is no requirement that the refugees have family ties to the United Kingdom, and the scheme will allow people in the United Kingdom to nominate a specific Ukrainian or a named Ukrainian family to live with them in their homes or to offer a separate property.

Communities, the voluntary sector, and organisations like charities and religious groups will be able to sponsor groups of Ukrainians, according to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities.

Sponsored Ukrainians will be granted three years of leave to remain in the UK, with the ability to work and use public services.

Those who provide housing will be scrutinised, and Ukrainian candidates will be subjected to security checks.

Sponsors who give rent-free housing or a spare room for a minimum of six months will be paid £350 per month.