The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces was an unprovoked act of war, and our hearts go out to those caught in Putin’s crossfire in Ukraine, who are on the front-line of a conflict between democracy and dictatorship.
The scenes of aggression and violence have caused the displacement of many hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian people from their homes and marked the onset of what could be the largest humanitarian crisis on our continent in decades.
The Welsh Government are providing £4m in financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which will help to provide crucial support to many who are in desperate need. Discussions are continuing to determine the best route for this aid to reach those on the ground as quickly as possible. We will also be assessing what surplus medical equipment could be usefully provided.
As a Nation of Sanctuary, we stand ready to welcome people who need and want to leave Ukraine at this time. Urgent discussions are being held with local authority leaders to ensure preparations are in place to accept refugees.
Our First Minister has written to the Prime Minister to urge the UK Government to strengthen the current arrangements in place to enable Ukrainian citizens to come to the UK. Ensuring they can seek safe sanctuary here – just as they can in other European nations – quickly and safely, with the minimum of bureaucracy, is vital.
I understand the desire we each feel in this country to do all we can to help the people of Ukraine. The Welsh Government are encouraging anyone who is able to help to consider making a financial donation to the British Red Cross, UNICEF UK or to the UNHCR UK, rather than by making a physical donations of goods.
With many logistical routes closed and transportation systems under significant pressure, sending physical goods could add more stress to the situation on the ground. As such making cash donations, to organisations responding to the crisis, allows for emergency relief goods to be sourced locally.
In Wales and across our local communities, people are coming together to offer their support. Local groups are organising their own collections for food, medicines and other essential items. The Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations (BAVO) will be accepting drop-off donations of toiletries, personal hygiene and medical items at its community hub based at 112-113 Commercial Street in Maesteg between 10am-2pm on Thursday 3-Friday 4 March, and Tuesday 8-9 March. You can contact them here:
Telephone: 01656 810400 Email: email@example.com
Advice and guidance can also be found established organisations who are accepting financial donations and who may be able to advise about offers of accommodation for incoming refugees – (although the logistics and guidelines for this are still being confirmed).
Home – Welsh Refugee Council (wrc.wales) 0808 1967273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/wales 0800 702 2020
Both the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain and the Home Office website are offering support for family members of British nationals in Ukraine, and also Ukrainian nationals living within the UK. You can access further advice from a volunteer legal adviser by emailing email@example.com.
Further advice and guidance about the UK immigration and asylum system can be found at the Right To Remain website or Bridgend Citizens Advice, while latest foreign travel advice is available at the Government website.
In the coming days and weeks, the Welsh Government will be aiming to put the plans announced this week into action, including preparing to welcome refugees to Wales. In the meantime, here is a link to the latest Welsh Government statement:
I would add that it is heartening to see the vast outpouring of offers of help and contributions from our local towns and communities and across the whole of Wales. We stand with the people of Ukraine in their fearlessness, courage, and determination against this military aggression.
If you are able to offer a place in your home to someone fleeing the war in Ukraine, here is where you can register.