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Tens of thousands register interest as Homes for Ukraine scheme launches

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ore than 150,000 people had registered their interest in the UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme ahead of its launch on Friday, but concerns have been raised about how it will work in practice.

The programme aims to match refugees with individuals, charities and other organisations who can provide accommodation for at least six months, enabling Ukrainians without family ties in Britain to enter the country.

But concerns have been aired about red tape, safeguarding and resourcing, with one major charity warning the Government is “unleashing chaos” with the scheme and that refugees could die before they are matched with a sponsor and can safely reach the UK.

Labour said the programme’s “excessive bureaucracy” and “DIY nature” are the greatest barriers to its success, and urged the Government to “cut unnecessary paperwork and play an active role in matching sponsors to refugees”.

More than 150,000 people in Britain had registered their interest by Thursday, and refugees who have found a sponsor can apply from Friday.

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, claimed the scheme is a “smokescreen” and distraction from what really needs to happen, which she says is the removal of the visa requirement for Ukrainians to come to the UK, as other European countries have done.

She accused the Government of putting charitable organisations in an “invidious” position and foisting the scheme on them without prior consultation, adding that she expects just a “trickle” of refugees to arrive through the scheme because they will have to find people to become sponsors while abroad before they can apply, and then make their own way to the UK.

More than 150,000 people in Britain have registered their interest in taking in Ukrainians fleeing the war (Victoria Jones/PA) / PA Wire

She told the PA news agency: “Are some of the people going to be alive by the time the process has been gone through?

“They should be letting people in now, but the Government is doing to refugees what they’ve done to the Syrians and to Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, and what they’re doing is to reduce to an absolute minimum the number of refugees making their way to the UK in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War Two.”

Positive Action in Housing, which runs Room for Refugees – the UK’s longest running refugee hosting programme which has been in place since 2002 – is receiving around 40 calls and up to 150 emails an hour from Britons who want to offer accommodation to Ukrainian refugees.

Almost 70 Ukrainian refugee families have registered with the charity, including 60 children and several heavily pregnant women currently in Ukraine, France, Poland, Belgium and Germany.

Unless the government steps up and provides clear guidance, we risk squandering the amazing generosity of people who have offered to open their homes

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