THE UK Government has been urged to bring forward a serious humanitarian response plan following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The SNP are calling on the Tories to provide safe routes for those fleeing persecution and to withdraw the controversial Borders Bill that charities say would see those seeking asylum in the UK criminalised and marginalised.

It comes as concerns grow over the humanitarian impact of the crisis with the US estimating 5 million could be displaced, and Poland alone preparing to receive up to 1 million refugees.

The SNP pointed to Germany's interior minister who had been in touch with the Polish government and the European Commission to offer support. Meanwhile, Ireland has joined other EU countries in waiving visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals.

The Home Office has offered an extension to visas for Ukrainians already here, and has disapplied some rules to allow the family of UK nationals living in Ukraine to join them here.

READ MORE: UK fails to set up route for Ukrainian refugees despite thousands fleeing

But while welcoming these steps, the SNP said the Home Office must go much further, as well as abandoning its "anti-refugee" bill.

Commenting, the SNP's shadow home secretary Stuart McDonald said: "The events unfolding in Ukraine are shocking and we must be clear in our unwavering support for Ukraine.

"While the UK must work with the international community in imposing robust sanctions, it must also step up its humanitarian efforts to deal with the crisis.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Thursday morning with a series of missile strikes, many on key government and military installations

"While the situation is fast-moving, we are clearly going to see a significant movement of refugees from Ukraine into neighbouring EU countries and beyond."

The MP urged the UK Government to bring forward a "serious humanitarian response" plan including safe legal routes to the UK.

He continued: "This must include much broader rights for Ukrainian nationals to join both British and Ukrainian family members who are already here in the UK – rather than expecting them to seek asylum in Poland, away from their families.

READ MORE: 'Not the time for half measures' FM says as 137 Ukrainians die after Russian strikes

“And it must also make clear we are willing and prepared to take Ukrainian refugees here as part of the Global Resettlement Scheme, if that is advised by UNHCR and requested by our European allies.

"Finally, it must also ditch its attack on the Refugee Convention through its toxic Nationality and Borders Bill which would criminalise and marginalise people fleeing war and prosecution – including Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s invasion.

"The Refugee Convention is as essential and as relevant as ever.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Our priority remains supporting British Nationals who are resident in Ukraine and their dependents who want to leave the country. We are working around the clock to process visa applications and are processing many applications in a matter of hours.

“The main Visa Application Centre in Kyiv has closed following the Russian Invasion but our centre in Lviv remains open for family members of British Nationals resident in Ukraine, and we have surged staff to the centres in nearby countries, including Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary.

 “Ukrainian nationals are able to apply for visas from these centres and we have announced concessions for Ukrainians currently in the UK, to extend or switch their visa.

“We are working with other European countries to ensure that responses to any migration issues are practical and in the best interests of the Ukrainian people.”