UK introduces a new policy for Ukrainian refugees

The UK has introduced new refugee schemes for Ukrainians, more than 120,000 people have signed up to offer homes for the Ukrainian refugees in the first 24 hours. This new government scheme allows families and individuals to bring Ukrainian refugees to the UK.

The Foreign Office minister, James Cleverly, said, “10,000 people every hour” were signing up. On Tuesday afternoon, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities tweeted: “Thanks to the generosity of the British public we’ve received over 100k expressions of interest from individuals and organizations so far in our Homes for Ukraine scheme”.

Almost 3 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, with more displaced within the country as cities are bombed. Until Monday, only Ukrainians with family links to the UK could apply for visas that would give them access to work and benefits.

A potential threat to women and children

On Monday, the levelling up secretary, Michael Gove, announced that sponsors could bring any Ukrainian to the UK to live in their home for a minimum of six months, for which they would receive a £350 monthly allowance.

As generous as this new policy may sound, experts claim that – the UK’s refugee scheme could lead to exploitation of Ukrainians. The hosts in the UK will have to undergo ‘light touch’ checks to bring in the Ukrainian refugees for stay. However, those who are fleeing Russia’s invasion, are majority women and children and this policy cannot be overlooked as a potential risk.

Lauren Agnew, human trafficking policy expert at Christian Action, Research and Education, said the scheme is “well motivated” but could lead to exploitation. With large numbers of applications needing to be processed quickly, red flags could be missed in the screening of potential hosts. Recent statistics from the National Crime Agency estimate there are at least 6,000 to 8,000 modern slavery offenders in the UK. And some of these offenders will try to host for Ukrainians to earn monetary benefits.

Local authorities will also receive £10,500 in extra funding per refugee for support services – with more for children of school age, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said. Some local government leaders have warned that the quick turnaround of arrivals could mean that accommodation is unsafe and relationships between sponsors and new arrivals might break down.

Recent crime against Ukrainian refugees women

A 49-year-old man has been arrested, accused of raping a teenager who fled Ukraine. The man was arrested in Poland after he reportedly lured a 19-year-old woman into his home, claiming he was offering her shelter. The man reached out to her over the internet and police in Wrocław, Poland, have now detained him on rape charges.

The incident has added to fears that people trafficking, and sexual exploitation, may become more commonplace as more people flee Ukraine from the Russian invasion.