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Letters / Are we ready to accommodate Ukrainian refugees?

I am sure we are all horrified by what we are witnessing on our televisions in Ukraine.

While I have no complaints about our government’s work in trying to exert pressure on Russia, I am hugely exacerbated by its lack of understanding of the reality facing Ukrainian refugees in the basic need to find shelter and the things necessary to sustain life.

The home office web sites says ‘The government has announced plans for a new sponsorship scheme for Ukrainians without any family ties to the UK’. Sadly, it also says ‘Further details on the scheme for people will be published soon’.

I am sure for many, the government is simply acting too slow, but let us not be complicit in this by not being prepared to accommodate those refugees in Shetland.

The scale of the problem is huge, two million to date which could easily rise to five million in the next few weeks. Undoubtedly most will want to stay near to the Ukrainian border in the hope they can go home. Given the numbers involved this could destabilise many of the neighbouring host countries.

I would suggest we have a duty in Shetland to do our part in welcoming those refugees who wish to wait out the war in the UK. Perhaps if all local authorities put their hands up and said we are ready to accommodate refugees, the government would be compelled and confident to move a little faster.

While we may look to our local authority to take a lead and coordinate our effort, the scheme makes it clear they are looking for ‘communities‘private’ and ‘local authorities’ to participate.

It may well be that our council has already started making plans to answer the call on our behalf, but in the absence of any public information to that effect, I would urge them to move a little faster and to keep us in the loop.

Dennis Leask
Gulberwick