Charity chief ‘over the moon’ as paperwork completed to take 52 Ukrainian orphans to Scotland

A group of orphaned Ukrainian children could soon be heading for “sanctuary” in Scotland after the necessary paperwork was completed to allow them to travel to the UK.

Steven Carr, chair of the Dnipro Kids charity, said he was “over the moon” that the youngsters would be able to make the trip after plans to fly them to the UK on Monday had to be abandoned.

The charity evacuated 52 orphans – who are aged between one and 18 – and their carers from Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion, taking them to Poland.

They had been due to travel from Warsaw to London earlier this week, but their flight was unable to take off after a key piece of paperwork was not provided in time.

On Tuesday, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford – who has raised the plight of the youngsters in the House of Commons – said he was “absolutely delighted that the necessary paperwork has now been issued”.

The SNP MP added: “I am working closely with Dnipro Kids, the Scottish Government and Virgin Atlantic to ensure we can get the children safely to Scotland imminently.”

Mr Blackford said: “The priority through all of this is the safety and wellbeing of the children – and this paperwork should be the final piece of the jigsaw they have been waiting for.

“I hope we can now ensure they will soon be warmly welcomed to sanctuary in Scotland without further delay.”

Mr Carr responded: “I’m over the moon that it now seems we can finally bring the Dnipro Kids to sanctuary in Scotland.

“This is a huge relief and I’m thankful to all involved in reaching this breakthrough.

“We’ve known these children and their carers for many years, and I’m looking forward to bringing them back to Scotland where they can finally get the peace and security they need.”

He added: “The assistance we’ve received from Ian Blackford, Lord Harrington, Kevin Foster, the Scottish Government and UK Government, Polish and Ukrainian authorities, Virgin Atlantic, and many others has been exceptional – and I want to place on record my thanks to them all.”

Dnipro Kids was formed by supporters of Edinburgh’s Hibernian FC, with organisers now working with Stirling Council, who will accommodate the children at a facility in Callander after they arrive in the UK.

Robert Brown from the charity said both it and Stirling Council were “committed to giving the children a wonderful time so that they can escape the trauma of what they’ve been through, and we can turn their experience into an adventure they’ll remember for the rest of their lives”.

It is expected the youngsters will spend a number of weeks in the Callander area before moving to Edinburgh.

Mr Brown had contacted Stirling Council last week when it was confirmed the youngsters would be coming to the UK, with the charity working with the local authority to put a “a comprehensive support package” in place.

Work has been taking place with local bodies, including NHS Forth Valley and Police Scotland, along with volunteers from local businesses, to ensure a facility in Callander is ready to welcome the youngsters when they arrive.

Mr Brown said: “The council deserve a lot of credit for this.”

Stirling Council chief executive Carol Beattie said: “Dnipro Kids approached us asking for support and our staff responded quickly to help make sure the children have what they need.

“The suffering faced by innocent families and communities is heart-breaking to witness and we are prepared to do whatever we can to help them.”

She continued: “Stirling Council has a proud history of welcoming and assisting refugees.

“We have participated in the Syrian refugee resettlement scheme since its launch in 2005 in response to the Syrian crisis and we are committed to supporting efforts to resettle Afghan nationals.

“Now we are stepping up to aid the innocent Ukrainian victims of the Russian military invasion.

“These children have shown enormous courage to flee the devastation and constant fear they were facing in their own homes to try to integrate somewhere new.

“Our first priority will be checking on the health and wellbeing of the young people, and making them feel welcome.

“After that, we have put in arrangements to ensure they are completely integrated into the community, whether that’s going to school or taking part in various activities.

“They will be warmly welcomed into Stirling’s communities where they will find support to get used to their new environment and help getting to know the country that has welcomed them.

“We stand ready to help in Stirling if there’s more we can do for the children.”

Mr Brown, meanwhile, urged people to donate whatever money they could to help support Ukraine.

He said: “Ukrainian men are in the front line of a fight to protect our democratic way of life. We must therefore do all we can to help their wives and children wherever they are. It is going to be a very long haul, so we need to donate and donate and donate.”

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