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Government seeks refugee sponsors to secure homes for fleeing Ukrainians

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T

he Government has revealed details of a new scheme to help people fleeing the Russian invasion as the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine said she “totally gets the criticism” of the refugee system to date.

The Homes for Ukraine programme, to be rolled out this week, will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to bring people escaping the war to safety – even if they have no ties to the UK.

Britons offering accommodation to Ukrainian refugees through the new route will receive a “thank you” payment of £350 per month.

It comes as the Government has been condemned for the speed and scale of its efforts to bring fleeing Ukrainians to the UK.

The UK’s ambassador to Ukraine, Melinda Simmons, told The Sunday Times she “totally gets the criticism” levelled at the Government over its approach to the issue so far.

Until now, the visa route for people fleeing the war in Ukraine has been limited to those with family members settled in the UK.

Ms Simmons told The Sunday Times: “I’m approached directly by British nationals who tell me where they are, and that… the visa appointment is in three weeks and they’re ready with their biometrics but they’re stuck in a hostel with two young kids.

“I get these messages every day. We maintain personal contact with these people and our rapid deployment teams at the border are absolutely brilliant.

“It just needs to be matched now, with enough resource to be able to process people with the speed that we need. I know that the visa centres are now responding to it with a better queuing system and more people.

The Government has been condemned for the speed and scale of its efforts to bring fleeing Ukrainians to the UK (Daniel Cole/AP) / AP

“But if this is going to rise then obviously it’s going to have to continue and the capacity is going to have to grow in a corresponding way.”

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