SNP accuse Home Office of being ‘only obstacle’ allowing 48 orphans to seek sanctuary in Scotland

The Home Office has been accused of being the “only obstacle” to allowing 48 Ukrainian orphans to receive sanctuary in Scotland.

The SNP’s Ian Blackford (pictured) told MPs he has spent much of the last week trying to help Scottish charity Dnipro Kids, established by fans of Hibernian Football Club.

They have evacuated 48 children from orphanages in Ukraine and are “desperately attempting to provide them with temporary sanctuary in Scotland”, Mr Blackford said.

He told Prime Minister’s Questions: “There is a plane ready and waiting in Poland to bring these orphans to the UK on Friday but that flight will leave empty without the necessary paperwork from the Home Office.

“The Polish authorities, Edinburgh City Council, the Scottish Government and the orphans’ guardians are all working to bring these children to safety.”

Mr Blackford commended refugees minister Lord Harrington for his efforts, adding: “But a week on, the Home Office is still proving to be the only obstacle in the way and it risks leaving these children stranded.

“So I’m pleading with the Deputy Prime Minister: remove these obstructions before it’s too late.”

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab denied bureaucracy was holding up the case.

He said: “We want to do everything we can.

“Of course there are range of issues in this case, including the wishes of the Ukrainian government on where orphaned children should go and should be living, whether any necessary permissions are being sought from the Ukrainian and/or Polish governments.

“This isn’t actually about bureaucracy, it’s about genuine safeguarding issues but I certainly want to work with him in the best interests of those children.”

Mr Blackford said the Polish and Ukrainian authorities have offered their support, adding: “We need the Home Office to give us the paperwork that’ll make that happen.”

Mr Raab replied: “It’s very important that the proper international practices on safeguarding are followed, I know he appreciates that.

“We’re keen to find out if family reunion options with Ukrainian family in the region have been considered, we also know that many children in state care in Ukraine have family members in the region – for the safeguarding and wellbeing of the children that must also be considered.”

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