We have all been shocked by Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The bravery and stoicism of the Ukrainian people has been awe-inspiring. The international community therefore owes them the most robust response possible.
I am proud of how international partners and allies have stood united in our support for Ukraine and its people. We have led efforts to provide munitions and humanitarian support for Ukraine. For example, we have provided financial support of almost £400 million. We have also initiated robust sanctions against the Putin regime.
What you can do to help
The kindness and generosity shown by the British public since the Russian invasion of Ukraine once again demonstrates that, regardless of political or geographical differences, the whole UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine to support them and their people through this dark chapter.
More information on what you can do to help can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukraine-what-you-can-do-to-help
Please note, the Government is strongly advising people who would like to help to donate cash through trusted charities and aid organisations, rather than donating goods. Cash can be transferred quickly to areas where it is needed and individuals and aid organisations can use it to buy what is most needed. The Government advises that unsolicited donations of goods, although well-meaning, can obstruct supply chains and delay more urgent life-saving assistance from getting through.
A number of organisations are raising money for Ukraine and the Government advises donating to trusted charities and aid organisations – the Charity Commission holds a list of these organisations. The Disasters Emergency Committee appeal launched on 2 March has already raised £150 million, with the Government matching the first £25 million. This extraordinary generosity shows that the British people are united in their determination to help Ukraine.
Organisations across the UK are gathering essential supplies, such as clothes, first aid and sanitary products. Many local charities and community groups will have lists of items they need. Members of the public should therefore check for local collections, either on social media or local news.
Visa for Ukrainian refugees
I am in regular contact with the Home Office as the UK rolls out our visa schemes to provide eligible Ukrainians with safe passage to the UK. Let me assure you that capacity is expanding to meet demand.
The Home Secretary has announced changes to the Ukraine Family Scheme, open to those with existing family ties in the UK. From Tuesday, Ukrainian nationals with passports will no longer need to go to a Visa Application Centre to give their biometrics before they come to the UK. They will be able to get permission to come to the UK, fully online from wherever they are, and will be able to give their biometrics once they come to the UK. On arrival, individuals will receive a six-month entry stamp that evidences their right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK. Once in the UK, individuals will be able to extend their stay for up to 36 months.
The Visa Application Centres across Europe will therefore be able to focus their efforts on helping Ukrainians without passports, or who are vulnerable or may struggle to use online systems. We have increased the capacity at those Centres to 13,000 appointments per week. This streamlined approach will be operational as of 15 March.
A small Visa Application Centre presence will soon be established in Arras, to provide appointments for Ukrainians referred there by Border Force officers in Calais.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will deliver the humanitarian sponsorship visa, which will allow a safe and legal route for those Ukrainians without existing family ties in the UK.