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Hundreds of Ukrainians still living in hotels a month after arriving in Scotland

The consul general said Ukrainians are ‘touched’ to see the colours of their national flag (Damien Storan/PA)
The consul general said Ukrainians are ‘touched’ to see the colours of their national flag (Damien Storan/PA)

Around 500 Ukrainians are still living in hotels a month after arriving in Scotland, a committee of MSPs has heard.

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

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

However he said he does not understand what is causing a “block” between those arriving in Scotland being matched with hosts.

Mr Mankovskyi said he does not consider those arriving in Scotland to be refugees, but instead Ukrainians who have received “temporary protection status” who will one day return home.

He said: “Approximately 500 people throughout Scotland live in hotels for more than one month. Unfortunately we don’t have direct numbers.

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

Mr Mankovskyi asked if representatives from the Scottish Government’s welcome hubs could visit those who were still in hotels.

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 understands Edinburgh is “full” and Ukrainians are instead being moved to Glasgow or other parts of Scotland.

Describing the situation in Ukraine, he said: “It’s 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, that’s very difficult.”

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

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Scottish Government minister Neil Gray spoke about his visit to a refugee centre in Poland (Steve Welsh/PA)

Neil Gray, the Scottish Government minister with special responsibility for Ukrainian refugees, gave evidence to the committee later on Thursday morning.

He said he will leave “no stone unturned” in making sure the matching service is working as quickly as possible.

Mr Gray said: “I don’t want to see people in hotel rooms for any longer than is absolutely necessary.

“We’re working with local authorities to build capacity with the matching service.”

The minister said he is not looking to pause the Scottish super sponsor scheme, as the Welsh Government did earlier in June.

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

He said: “People there are doing their best.

“But seeing the difficult situation has given me even greater determination to do all we can.”