The government minister defended Britain’s support for fleeing Ukrainian refugees after the Home Office revealed that only “about 50” visas had been issued.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said the UK government had “made it clear that we want to support Ukrainians seeking asylum”, adding that most of those who had left Ukraine were now in border countries.
Acknowledging that the UK has so far received “only a small amount”, Mr Cleverley told Sky News that “the process has just begun”.
“We have made it very clear that we want to support Ukrainians seeking asylum, both those who have family ties here in the UK and those who do not,” said the Foreign Minister.
“In the last 10 days or so, we have seen a huge number of people leave Ukraine to escape the conflict. We will support them in the places they are now, usually in the countries bordering Ukraine.
“But we will, of course, also welcome Ukrainians here in the UK.”
His comments appear when the Home Office revealed that since Friday more than 10,000 people have applied to take part in the UK Family Scheme in Ukraine – so far only “about 50” visas have been issued.
Under this system, Ukrainian refugees whose families have settled in the UK will be able to apply to come to Britain within three years.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the Home Office was “completely unable” to understand the urgency of the crisis.
Mr Cleverley also defended Britain’s approach to sanctions as lawmakers prepared to speed up consideration of a bill on economic crimes in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Legislation that intends to combat money laundering by foreign oligarchs will mean that foreign property owners will have to declare their identity rather than use the company.
Responding to criticism regarding the number of individual oligarchs subject to sanctions, Mr Cleverley told Sky News: “We had a very large number, more than 200 individuals and legal entities curtailed Russian economic activity worth more than £ 250 billion. more than three million Russian companies can no longer raise funding in the London market.
“Therefore, the fact that Vladimir Putin nominated us for criticism is a sign of respect.”