The Ukraine Relief Committee met this morning to assess the Ukraine refugee situation and explore the next steps the Isle of Man will take in supporting those fleeing the conflict.
The Isle of Man Government is in ongoing discussions with the UK Government and other international stakeholders on visas for Ukrainian nationals and the anticipated sponsorship scheme which would allow Ukrainians without family ties to UK residents to enter the country.
The Committee is working to ensure that the Island is ready to offer this humanitarian pathway for those escaping the conflict as soon as possible, which would enable islanders to sponsor Ukrainians to come the Isle of Man and into people’s homes.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Kate Lord-Brennan MHK said:
'I know there is a sense of at frustration at the time the UK is taking to open up a pathway to allow Ukrainian refugees without family connection to Britain to come to the UK and potentially onwards to the Isle of Man. Mirroring the UK pathway should be the preferred way to proceed, but we do not want process to get in the way of the generous offers of support from our community. We are actively considering alternatives.
We are asking the public to start considering whether they are ready to open up their homes or provide suitable accommodation they might have for Ukrainian refugees. This is an initial step while we await further information from the UK and determine how best we can support the community to offer a safe haven to those fleeing the conflict.'
More information will be published in the coming days and those interested in becoming a host or who wish to offer any other support can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Shimmin, spokesperson for One World Centre Isle of Man, added:
'We’re all aware of the distressing scenes coming from Ukraine as a result of the conflict and it is clear that more humanitarian help is needed. The potential opportunity to provide a sponsorship scheme to the Island and welcome families into the Manx community is good news and a great step forward by government.
We know that many people are keen to help. Those interested need to carefully consider what it means to welcome someone into their home for an indefinite period. It is important to provide stability for these families so it’s likely that the commitment will need to be for at least six months in the first instance.'
Currently, Ukrainian nationals with a family member living in the Isle of Man can apply for a free visa to come to the Island. The Isle of Man Government has now received seven applications for this pathway and reminds those who need any immigration help to email email@example.com
In the meantime, residents are encouraged to donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Donating money, rather than physical items, allows charities to source relief items locally, ensuring quality and quick delivery to those in need.