Ukraine Refugee Crisis: Calling for Humanitarian Visas
We welcome the UK government’s recent promise to be ‘generous’ in its response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Since we last contacted the Home Office on this, the numbers of refugees fleeing Ukraine has reached 1.7 million and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.
As the numbers increase so does the vulnerability of the refugees – these are people who do not have contacts in the EU or resources to support themselves. In Poland and Moldova, we are working to welcome refugees, providing safe spaces for women and children, information support and accommodation, but we would like to see the UK open its doors to Ukrainians as soon as possible.
We stand ready with the Jewish community to play our part in welcoming refugees, and would like to see that promised generosity realised now in the way of providing a humanitarian visa route.
In preparation, we at World Jewish Relief are adapting our STEP programme to be ready to welcome Ukrainian Refugees. Find out more about our expertise in refugee employment here.
Read our full letter to the Home Secretary and UK Government:
Dear Home Secretary,
We urge you and the UK Government to urgently put in place a humanitarian visa route for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
Since we last wrote to you on Monday February 28th the numbers of refugees fleeing the country has reached 1.3 million and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.
World Jewish Relief stands out amongst other agencies with access to 29 established partners in country, who describe fear, panic and disbelief, and are doing everything they can to protect themselves, their families and our clients.
We are responding to the most urgent humanitarian needs within and beyond Jewish communities. Our partners are operating in areas free of Russian control, providing cash, food and medical support, priority homecare and psychological support. Some of our attention has had to shift to assist our partners help evacuate vulnerable people where it is safe to do so. In Poland and Moldova, we are working to welcome refugees, providing safe spaces for women and children, information support and accommodation.
As the numbers increase so does the vulnerability of the refugees – these are people who do not have contacts in the EU or resources to support themselves. We cannot sit by and watch this humanitarian crisis unfold without appealing to you and the UK Government to provide a humanitarian visa route.
We welcome the current offer of the family scheme and the new sponsorship plan, but we fear it does not go far enough – and certainly does not yet equate to the “very generous” response which Prime Minister Johnson promised eight days ago. As you will have seen first-hand, the majority of those fleeing are women, children and the elderly and their needs are only going to increase as the war continues. World Jewish Relief, the people we assist, and the wider Jewish community believe we need an additional response.
If we can help in any way to ensure a workable and effective scheme is put in place, please do not hesitate to call on us. We will do all we can to support Ukrainians arriving here to gain the necessary English skills and support them to find work, building on our experience and expertise in this area, and we know we can do more. Currently we are putting in place surge capacity for employment support for Ukrainians arriving in the UK.
We urge you to extend the support currently available to include a humanitarian visa route now.
Maurice Helfgott & Paul Anticoni