The Liberal Democrats are calling for the UK to lead a coordinated humanitarian response to Putin's war in Ukraine, with safe passage and support for Ukrainian refugees fleeing violence and persecution at the hands of Russian forces.
The party's MPs have written to the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary, urging them to work with humanitarian agencies and Ukraine's neighbours to provide accommodation and support to the people now fleeing Russian troops, who are now advancing on the capital of Kyiv.
It comes in the wake of the news that visa applications from those Ukrainian nationals without close British relatives and who are stuck in the country are suspended, meaning no legal route exists for them to enter the UK and claim asylum.
The letter calls for "an ambitious commitment to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK", and urges the Government to withdraw its Nationality and Borders Bill - currently going through Parliament - because it would criminalise Ukrainians and other refugees who come to the UK seeking asylum. This is a sentiment shared by a number of leading charities such as Amnesty International and Save The Children in a letter to The Times on Friday.
The Liberal Democrats are warning Ministers not to repeat the mistakes of the Government's scheme for Afghan refugees, which still sees many families trapped in small hotel rooms, waiting to be properly resettled and without the settled immigration status the Government promised. The letter calls for "a full five-year funding package for each and every person a council resettles".
Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, said:
"A terrible human tragedy is unfolding before our eyes, as a result of Putin's maniacal aggression.
"We are already seeing queues of people desperate to get out before it is too late, especially LGBT+ people, journalists and activists who fear persecution at the hands of Russian forces.
"As well as the strongest possible sanctions on Putin and his cronies, this crisis demands a coordinated humanitarian response. Anything less would play right into Putin's hands by destabilising our continent even further.
"The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those forced to flee war and persecution. We must not turn our backs on the people of Ukraine in their hour of need."
A terrible human tragedy is unfolding in Ukraine.Thousands are desperately fleeing before it is too late, especially LGBT+ people, journalists and activists who fear persecution at the hands of Russian forces. The UK has a proud history of supporting those who flee war and persecution. We cannot turn our back on Ukraine.
Queues at Dover stretch for hours. Our supply chains are experiencing disruption. Supermarket shelves are empty. Critical sectors like healthcare and agriculture do not have enough staff. British firms, farmers and fishers are facing such higher charges and bureaucracy that many of them have given up on exporting altogether. And UK citizens no longer have the freedom to be together with their loved ones, to work, to study, or to retire anywhere in the EU.