Asylum Seeker Support Network delays resettlement of Ukrainian refugees to hotel in Livingston

A group supporting Ukrainian refugees in Scotland delayed the transfer of 14 Ukrainian refugees from Livingston’s Mercure Hotel to Aberdeen on Friday night.

Officers from Edinburgh City Council’s Refugee Resettlement Team showed up at the Mercure Hotel to give more than a dozen Ukrainian refugees the opportunity to ask with just three hours’ notice whether they would be willing to relocate to Aberdeen.

The refugees were described as ‘extremely stressed and upset’ by witnesses, believing they now had to spend three weeks integrating into the West Lothian community, even taking English lessons at West Lothian College.

A group helping Ukrainian refugees find individual sponsors, visa applications and other resources to settle in Scotland, have been notified and have come forward to help support asylum seekers.

Although the hotel was in Livingston, the refugees were the responsibility of Edinburgh City Council, which has a contract with the Mercure Hotel to house Ukrainian refugees.

The latest statistics show 1,446 refugees have arrived in Scotland under the Super Sponsor Scheme, although just 900 have been matched with a ‘sponsor’, or host – meaning 500 refugees have not yet been housed and are living currently in hotels.

The refugees were told to move to Aberdeen to make way for a new wave of refugees coming to Edinburgh, spilling over to the Mercure Hotel in Livingston, despite the refugees expressing their wish to stay in the central belt.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘We are working in partnership with local government and the third sector to ensure that everyone who arrives at our reception centers receives a ‘warm welcome to Scotland’, with access to accommodation temporary accommodation, trauma support and translation. .

“Our national matching service helps identify longer-term accommodation across Scotland, from the generous offers of accommodation made by Scots as well as properties from local authorities and housing associations.”

“Yesterday a small group of Ukrainians volunteered to switch hotels so that those arriving late at night at Edinburgh Airport could access nearby accommodation, rather than having to go to more distant hotels.

“The relocation team made sure everyone understood that this was a voluntary arrangement and that rooms were available if they decided to stay.”

The Super Sponsorship scheme had its guidelines set by COSLA and the Scottish Government, although the care and interaction with refugees falls within the remit of local councils.

Gary Gray, co-founder of ScotHost, said: ‘It was the most disgusting treatment of human beings we have seen in Scotland, and it was not the warm Scottish welcome promised by our First Minister a few years ago. barely months.

“They phrased the questions to the refugees in such a way that they don’t really have a choice, there is a real difference with the policy put in place by COSLA and the attitude on the front line.

“The government uses the same model as the Syrian and Afghan programs, placing families in hotels before they find housing, but Homes for Ukraine operates on a completely different model.

“Local authorities are trying to figure out how it works, while thousands of refugees are sitting in hotels, thousands of people who signed up for the scheme still haven’t heard of the super sponsorship scheme.”

“At the very least, the refugees should be treated with dignity and respect, but what they got, they were told to move out on a Friday night, they were only given 3 hours notice and have been left to languish in hotels for up to two months now,

“We’ve been in this crisis for two months and it still feels like the first week.”

The relocation of the 14 Ukrainian refugees to the Mercure Hotel has been postponed until Monday – although a long-term solution has yet to be found for the families.

In response, ScotHost demanded a complete halt to the movement of Ukrainian refugees into Scotland until the Super Sponsor program was fully implemented.

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