Question to the Home Office:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to support UK charities seeking to provide safe escape routes for Ukrainian orphans and unaccompanied refugee children.
We recognise the deeply troubling circumstances faced by all Ukrainians who are caught up in this conflict, including unaccompanied minors, and the role many countries will need to play to safeguard those children. With respect to UK charities we are aware of a significant interest in assisting Ukrainian children.
Safeguarding and protection of these vulnerable children is paramount. It will generally be in the best interests of a child to reunite with their family members in the first instance. This is also the position of the Ukrainian Government. We have held a number of discussions with leading international organisations who are working hard to ensure appropriate processes are put in place to process and safeguard unaccompanied minors who are fleeing Ukraine.
The Ukraine Family Scheme (UFS) provides an immediate pathway for those Ukrainians, including unaccompanied minors, with family already settled in the UK to come to our country. The relevant safeguarding checks will be performed as part of the application process. The UFS is designed to allow as many people as possible to come to Britain and gives them immediate access to the support they need.
The routes and visa changes which we have announced so far follow extensive engagement with the Ukrainian Government to ensure they respond directly to their needs and asks. We will continue to work closely with them going forward.
We are committed to working with local government to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place, particularly for any unaccompanied children who may arrive and for whom there is no option of being reunited with extended family. The UK already has well established policies in this area for looked after migrant children.