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Monday, July 15, 2024

UK may kick out 100,000 Ukrainians

Tory MPs are urging a “bespoke response” to the visa scheme expiration

More than half of the Ukrainians who went to Britain on a refugee resettlement scheme will have to leave by September 2025 unless the government acts now to give them long-term “clarity,” several Conservative members of Parliament and NGOs said on Wednesday.

An estimated 182,100 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK since February 2022, using the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine, set up to allow them a three-year stay. With no end in sight to the conflict and most of those displaced unwilling to return, parliamentarians are urging Rishi Sunak’s government to do something, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Read more: ‘Nothing is enough’ for Ukraine – Zelensky

“With some having kids in school, we need to be able to allow them to plan,” said Bob Seely, a Tory MP who co-chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Ukraine, urging 10 Downing Street to give the Ukrainians “important clarity.”

Sir Robert Buckland, who was justice secretary in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, urged granting Ukrainians a more permanent status. He said the “bespoke” schemes created for a “particularly urgent and unprecedented situation” required a “further bespoke response.”

Buckland said there could be some kind of arrangement with a “higher degree of certainty” that stops short of full citizenship.

A survey by the Office for National Statistics in July showed that about half of Ukrainian adults intended to remain UK residents even if it becomes safe to go back, matching the sentiments of their compatriots currently in Germany.

Kate Brown, head of the charity Reset, pointed out that the displaced Ukrainians have “started to rebuild their lives here,” learning English and getting jobs. Reset has worked with the government on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Read more: Ukraine uses North Korean rockets to blast Russian forces

“The infrastructure in Ukraine has completely been destroyed,” said Stan Benesh, managing director of Opora, a UK-based charity supporting Ukrainian immigration. Even if Ukraine wins, he said, “there wouldn’t be enough resources to go around” if everyone returns.

“So in a way, it’s almost a better thing if it’s a slower or more targeted return of those that, once it is safe, do want to go back,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson told The Telegraph that the government will keep the schemes “under review” should they need to be extended “in line with developments of the situation in Ukraine.”

Around 8.6 million Ukrainians who left the country due to the conflict do not intend to return, a Kiev nonprofit called the Ukrainian Institute for the Future (UIF) said in June. The UIF’s latest report noted that Ukraine had been on a downward demographic spiral by the time of the 2014 Maidan coup, having lost almost 7 million residents since declaring independence in 1991.