I have been contacted by constituents from across Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse who are horrified by the scenes they are seeing coming from Ukraine and want to know what is being done to help and what they can do themselves. Russia’s invasion is an unprovoked, illegal attack which has led to a war here in Europe.
The SNP and the Scottish Government condemn in the strongest possible terms this illegal invasion of a sovereign, independent and democratic country. Be in no doubt, this is one of the most dangerous threats that Europe has faced since the Second World War – democratic countries the world over must unite and condemn Vladimir Putin’s illegal war, ensure he pays a high price and most crucially support those fighting for their freedom in Ukraine.
The Scottish Government has begun the shipment of £5.2 million worth of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. An initial shipment was announced on 28th February and totalled £4 million which included basic humanitarian assistance including health, water and sanitation and also shelter.
Alongside financial aid the Scottish Government are providing medical supplies based on a list of urgently needed equipment from the Ukrainian Consulate in Edinburgh. This includes anaesthetic machines, syringe pumps and bandages.
As part of this United Nations children’s organisation UNICEF will also be receiving £1 million to help in their work to establish a series of child-friendly safe spaces along key travel corridors on countries bordering Ukraine to provide critical support to children and families fleeing the conflict. This work will also involve working with the Ukrainian Government to ensure continuity of child protection services including plans for the safety and protection of children in institutional facilities.
The Scottish Government is also calling on the UK Government to lift barriers to Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homes due to Putin’s illegal invasion. The 27 countries in the EU have waived all visa requirements for the more than two million refugees who have been forced to flee their country. Poland has taken more than 1,000,000 refugees while the UK to our shame has only taken 300 due to an unwillingness to waive the requirement for visas for those fleeing from Ukraine.
The UK Government must bench their venomous obsession with immigration targets and do the right thing for the families of those who are fighting and dying for democratic values in Ukraine.
Locally the response to this suffering has been incredibly heartwarming and speaks to the fundamental goodness of people. Lanarkshire mums have come together, led by Jackie Crawford, to provide baby boxes for refugee families. The group now numbers more than 4000 members with up to 400 boxes being collected for shipping abroad.
So how can you help? There are a variety of organisations that could use your support and you can find links to them below:
As this is a constantly evolving situation you can find a more up-to-date list of organisations here: https://ready.scot/humanitarian and https://www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk/where-in-scotland-donations-ukraine/
I myself have donated to the DEC appeal and would urge anyone who is able to lend their support to those fleeing war to consider doing so.
Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse