Ukrainian refugees still in hotels a month after arriving in Scotland

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AROUND 500 Ukrainians are still living in hotels a month after arriving in Scotland, an MSP panel has heard.

Yevhen Mankovskyi, Ukraine’s consul general in Edinburgh, thanked Scotland for its support when he appeared before the Holyrood Europe Committee on Thursday.

He highlighted support for those who had fled the war in Scotland, as well as donations to those fighting in Ukraine.

However, he said he did not understand what was causing a “blockage” between those arriving in Scotland who are matched with hosts.

Mankovskyi said he does not see those arriving in Scotland as refugees, but rather as Ukrainians who have been given “temporary protected status” who will one day return home.

He said: “Around 500 people across Scotland live in hotels for more than a month. Unfortunately we do not have direct numbers.

“We don’t understand where the problem is with matching the host family and the Ukrainians who are already here.”

Mankovskyi asked if representatives from Scottish Government reception centers could visit those still in hotels.

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He also said access to nurseries is a “big problem” as the majority of those fleeing are mothers with children.

The consul general said he understood Edinburgh was ‘full’ and that Ukrainians were being moved to Glasgow or other parts of Scotland instead.

Describing the situation in Ukraine, he said: “It is a very difficult situation in eastern Ukraine. There are fights every day, especially for the city of Sievierodonetsk.

“Up to 300 children have already died, it’s very difficult.”

Ukrainians are “touched” when they see the colors of the Ukrainian flag flying around the world, he added.

Neil Gray, the Scottish government’s minister for Ukrainian refugees, gave evidence to the commission on Thursday morning.

He said he would spare no effort to get the matchmaking service up and running as quickly as possible.

Gray said, “I don’t want to see people in hotel rooms any longer than necessary.

“We are working with local authorities to build capacity with the matchmaking service.”

The minister said he was not looking to suspend the Scottish super sponsorship scheme, as the Welsh government did earlier in June.

Gray said his recent experience of visiting a refugee center in Poland – where many Ukrainians have fled – “will stay with me for a long time”.

He said: “People there are doing their best.

“But seeing the difficult situation gave me even more determination to do everything we can.”

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