The Independent has re-launched its Refugees Welcome campaign, calling on the UK government to accept Ukrainian refugees without the need for visas.
So far, an estimated 368,000 Ukrainians have crossed into Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, with as many as five million expected to flee in the coming days and weeks as fighting intensifies.
There is currently no safe and legal route for Ukrainians to travel directly from the country to the UK in order to seek asylum without visas, unless they have close British relatives or family already in the UK.
The Independent’s campaign demands that the British government provides sanctuary for Ukrainians to settle in the UK, without the need for a visa.
It also calls for joint, immediate action from the UK and other European countries to help Ukraine’s neighbouring countries with emergency accommodation, food and medical supplies.
UK charities have shown their backing for The Independent’s Refugees Welcome campaign, calling for Britain to provide a safe and legal route for Ukrainians escaping the horrors of war and criticising the government’s current advice in directing refugees to seek sanctuary in the country they first enter.
The majority of British people support this sentiment, with YouGov polling showing that two thirds want the government to resettle Ukrainian refugees.
David Marley, Acting Editor of The Independent said: “With hundreds of thousands currently fleeing the crisis in Ukraine in search of safety, the UK must act without hesitation to provide support and show solidarity to our allies, the Ukrainian people.
“We must help Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania as they provide food and shelter, and follow the example set by others in offering to accommodate refugees simply and swiftly.
“That is why we are re-launching Refugees Welcome: to demand that the UK government sets up a resettlement scheme and to accept Ukrainians fleeing the invasion, without visas. It is the least we can do.”
The original Refugees Welcome campaign was introduced in 2015, calling on the UK and the rest of Europe to do more to help the hundreds of thousands fleeing the Syrian civil war.
Nearly 400,000 signed The Independent’s petition on the topic, with David Cameron announcing days later that 20,000 Syrian refugees would be resettled in the UK by 2020.
The Independent continued to track the government’s promises on refugees and restarted the campaign in 2021 following the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan.
It pushed for the UK to settle refugees in excess of the numbers seen from Syria – with support from across the political spectrum.
The Independent and Independent TV are reporting live on the situation in Ukraine with journalists on the ground, including Kim Sengupta from Kyiv, Bel Trew in the west of Ukraine and Borzou Daragahi covering the refugee crisis at the Hungarian border.