The United Nations estimates there are approximately eight million internally displaced persons in Ukraine and six and a half million refugees have fled to other countries (June 2022). Many of these refugees wish to remain as close as possible to Ukraine or to join with family and friends in states with which they have a connection.
Many thousands of refugees are looking to come to the UK, either due to family or personal ties, because they can speak English (which is a widely spoken second language in Ukraine), or because they believe it represents a safe and secure refuge. The level of support required may differ from other recent refugee movements to the UK. For example, while many of those who were forced to flee Afghanistan or Syria have little prospect of ever being able to return to the land of their birth and so are seeking a permanent home in the UK, many Ukrainians leaving the current conflict are likely to hope to return home once peace is restored. The vast majority of refugees who have left Ukraine are women and children, which poses safeguarding concerns. In addition to guidance on safeguarding in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, coordinated through the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency, we have signposted resources for identifying victims of human trafficking and modern slavery on our website.
Ukraine Matching Service
CSAN has sustained contact with the UK Government, other Caritas agencies in Europe, and other faith groups, on improving the speed, safety and effectiveness of matching processes between refugees and hosts in this country.
By May 2022, Caritas organisations had supported in person around 1.5 million people displaced from home by the war, internally within Ukraine and in nearby countries. Depaul International, religious orders and other Catholic charities are active on the ground too. Feedback from colleagues in national Caritas organisations in the war region indicates that most refugees want to remain close to Ukraine and have little interest in moving as far as the UK, though as at early June 2022 there are some emerging indications that a significant number of refugees may look to move to Southern Europe. The UK’s international reputation as a ‘hostile environment’ in terms of public policy on immigration has also been reported to have had an impact on the willingness of charities overseas to encourage refugees to come to the UK, and among the general public in Europe.
CSAN has kept abreast of the issues and in response to identified needs, has partnered with St John of God Hospitaller Services (SJOG), a member organisation, on a matching service for the Catholic community. The matching service will pair UK sponsors with Ukrainians displaced by the war and seeking refuge in the UK. The service offers matching, training and support services to sponsors and displaced Ukrainians under the government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
We understand around 230,000 UK households have registered to host one or more refugees in the Homes for Ukraine scheme. As of 30 August 2022, the Government had issued nearly 130,200 visas for the scheme in England and Wales, and an estimated 86,100 people had arrived through this route.
In addition, the need to plan and resource a humanitarian response to poverty in England and Wales is acute: how we resource both the needs of incoming refugees and existing residents already in poverty. 14.5 million people in the UK are in poverty. The ‘cost-of-living crisis’ is forecast to push an additional 4 million UK households into poverty in 2022.
Please note we do not offer advice on donating or transporting goods. The UK Government has published guidance on this.
In the war region, our Caritas national sister agencies are helping people directly. CAFOD, as a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee in the UK, is part of their joint appeal, from which those Caritas sister agencies will benefit. They have specifically asked for financial assistance rather than donations of goods.
CAFOD is leading and coordinating that appeal in England and Wales on behalf of our sister national Caritas agencies working in, and on the borders of Ukraine. CAFOD can accept, process and quickly transfer donations to our partners who can then focus on delivering the much-needed assistance. Through CAFOD, the Catholic community of England and Wales can give practical assistance in and around Ukraine. Caritas sister organisations in Ukraine (Caritas Spes and Caritas Ukraine) and in neighbouring countries are already helping people who are affected.
To support CAFOD’s appeal for relief work in the war region, please go to cafod.org.uk/ukrainecrisis.
To support CSAN’s work extending the Catholic Church’s responses to the cost-of-living crisis and for refugees in England and Wales, please go to csan.org.uk/donate.
Other organisations including Catholic charities are also making appeals for their work, details for which can be found on the individual web pages.