Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of international law and is breaking treaties and commitments, including the fundamental principles of the UN Charter.
It is an attack not only on Ukrainian people, but also on sovereignty, democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
It has been three weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and whilst the sanctions have had an effect, we undoubtedly need far more urgency and political will from the Government to overcome the obstacles in front of us.
The Government’s recently established “Homes for Ukraine” scheme is a step forward. It will enable individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to volunteer accommodation and provide a route to safety for Ukrainians: more information can be found at https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk/
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However, we still do not know when the first Ukrainians will arrive under this scheme which also relies heavily on sponsors knowing individual refugees.
The Government must step up and assist in the matching of sponsors who do not have a named contact with refugees in order to help as many people as possible.
The unnecessary bureaucracy is slowing the process down.
I support Labour’s call for an emergency visa system, which would lift all normal visa requirements other than the important and necessary security checks, which can be done online whilst they are en route, and biometrics which can be done on arrival.
This would provide a quick, simple and safe route to sanctuary for anyone who wants to come to the UK from Ukraine.
I am horrified by what I am seeing in Ukraine. It was truly an honour to listen to President Zelensky address the House of Commons last week, and it is important that we continue to work with our NATO and European allies to counter this attack on democracy.
It has though been heart-warming to see the response from the people of Sunderland who have shown so much willingness to help, with donations points being set up across the city.
You can find further information on where you can donate here: https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/people/eight-places-in-and-around-sunderland-to-drop-donations-to-help-ukraine-3593995
In the face of Putin’s aggression, we must show unity and strength.