Refugees from Ukraine could be here soon

REFUGEES from the war in Ukraine could soon be housed here after yesterday’s launch of the Bailiwick’s sponsorship scheme.

Refugees at the Ukrainian border (Picture by PA News)
Refugees at the Ukrainian border (Picture by PA News)

Extensive work has been carried out to ensure all appropriate support and legal measures are in place.

A policy for the scheme has been agreed by Home Affairs.

Changes were also needed to the Bailiwick’s immigration rules. These have been agreed by Home Affairs, in concurrence with the Lt-Governor and close consultation with Policy & Resources.

‘A considerable amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to progress the various and complex strands of developing our own scheme,’ said Home Affairs president Rob Prow.

‘We needed to make sure that we could provide the necessary support to beneficiaries, some of whom may arrive with complex needs given the horrors they may have experienced.

‘We needed to make sure an appropriate policy was in place to meet expectations as a responsible jurisdiction.

‘And we had to carry out the necessary legal amendments to effect the changes to the immigration rules, to ensure visas can be granted to Ukrainian beneficiaries.’

An enquiry line will operate from today, which will continue to coordinate support as Home Affairs staff have done with the family scheme.

Ukrainian residents applying for the scheme will need to be matched to an approved sponsor prior when applying for a visa.

For the purposes of safeguarding, all individuals resident at a sponsor’s address may be subject to security checks.

These will be conducted before an individual can become an approved sponsor and detailed criteria will be provided to individuals as part of the approval process.

Officers will continue to collaborate with Humanitarian Aid Guernsey to ensure the best support will be provided to both sponsors and Ukrainian beneficiaries as they arrive and settle into island life.

‘I want to thank everyone, nearly 300 people, who came forward and expressed an interest in being a sponsor,’ said Deputy Prow.

‘Our focus at this stage is very much on trying to secure accommodation that enables beneficiaries to have their own living space. Householders who are able to provide that are being contacted in the first phase.

‘It is critical that we progress this scheme but also make sure that the aims of the policy are met. It is paramount that any arrangements provided for beneficiaries under the scheme are safe, suitable and dignified.’

There have been questions about the perceived slow pace of introducing the scheme, after the UK launched it in mid-March.

Deputy Gavin St Pier is one who has expressed an interest in housing refugees.

‘I’m encouraged that there has been this move forward and that those expressions of interest will be turned into something solid,’ he said.

He had put forward a Rule 11 question to get an update on the scheme from Home Affairs, but after yesterday’s announcement he said he would be withdrawing that.

n The Ukraine coordination support team can be contacted via 220001, option 3. Alternatively, email ukraine@gov.gg.

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