Over 43,000 UK households offer to take in Ukrainian refugees

More than 43,000 households have offered to take in Ukrainian refugees under the UK government’s sponsorship scheme, according to the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities. A spokesperson said that figure was correct at 9.30pm on Monday but was “continuing to rise”.

He confirmed that the Homes For Ukraine website “temporarily stalled” after it went live late Monday afternoon due to the “enormous generosity of the British public” who offered to welcome those fleeing the conflict with Russia. Communities Secretary Michael Gove earlier announced the Homes for Ukraine scheme as the government scrambles to make it easier for people to enter the UK following widespread criticism of its response so far.

Nearly three million people have fled Ukraine since Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian invasion and civilians continued to find themselves caught up in the fighting on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Latvian counterpart Arturs Krisjanis Karins agreed in bilateral Downing Street talks that Mr Putin had made a “terrible and unforgivable mistake” in attacking Ukraine.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said the pair had called for an end to the Kremlin’s “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians”. It came after a Russian airstrike in central kyiv killed one person and injured six others, Ukrainian officials said, while two people were killed in the capital’s northern Obolonskyi district when artillery fire hit a building.

Two women with their children rest in a subway hall after fleeing Ukraine at the main train station in Berlin, Germany

There have been 1,663 civilian casualties since the invasion, the UK MoD said, citing UN figures – although the true statistic may be far higher – with “indiscriminate Russian bombing and air attacks …causing widespread destruction”. The UN refugee agency estimates that more than 2.8 million people have left Ukraine in search of safety.

The Russians claimed that 20 civilians were killed in Donetsk by a ballistic missile launched by Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian and Russian officials have held new peace talks via video link and talks are expected to continue on Tuesday.

In the Commons, Mr Gove said the Ukrainian people were ‘the victims of savage, indiscriminate and unprovoked aggression’ and that ‘their courage under fire and their determination to resist inspire our complete admiration’.

Previously, only Ukrainians whose family members were already settled in the UK could come. But under the new scheme, sponsors can provide a route for Ukrainians without family ties to come to the UK.

Mr Gove said “in recognition of their generosity” a tax-free monthly payment of £350 will be made to people for each family they care for. Sponsors can be of any nationality as long as they have permission to be in the UK for at least six months.

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Edward L. Robinett