THE Scottish Government has appointed a Minister for Ukrainian refugees to coordinate the response to support those arriving in Scotland.

Minister for Europe and International Development Neil Gray, who was given that brief in January 2022, will lead the work engaging with local authorities, third sector and other agencies as refugees begin to arrive.

The Scottish Government added that Gray will be in charge of engaging with the UK Government on the issue and pressing for "swift and coordinated humanitarian action and support".

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The First Minister said due to the "gravity of the situation" Gray will be given special responsbility for refugees and supporting them to rebuild their lives. 

Gray will report directly to the First Minister and attend Cabinet meetings when required. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Europe is facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

The National: Neil Gray - UK Parliament official portraits 2017.

Gray has been given special responsibilities over the refugee response

“More than two million Ukrainians have been forced to leave their homes and Scotland is ready and willing to play its part and to offer sanctuary and support to them and the many more who will sadly follow.

“Given the gravity, and urgent, nature of the situation, it is right that this Government has a Minister with specific responsibilities for refugees from Ukraine who will be arriving in Scotland and need support to rebuild their lives.

“Reporting direct to me on this issue, Neil Gray will work closely with External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson and Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison, and other Ministers, to ensure our response to this unprecedented crisis is co-ordinated across the Scottish Government.”

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Gray said:“Scotland stands ready to offer refuge and sanctuary for those fleeing Ukraine, just as we did with the Syrian Resettlement Programme, which saw all 32 local authorities in Scotland participate and welcome over 3,300 refugees into their communities.

“The Scottish Government is already bringing together key partners, like COSLA, the Scottish Refugee Council and Police Scotland, to coordinate plans and address the practical challenges of resettling Ukrainians here.

“With my additional responsibilities I will endeavour to ensure a swift, co-ordinated and focussed government response to the needs of the Ukrainians who seek sanctuary in our country.”

The National: People, fleeing Ukraine, register for a bus which will take them to Germany, at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, Friday, March 4, 2022. More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia's invasion in the swiftest refugee exodus in this

People, fleeing Ukraine, register for a bus which will take them to Germany, at the train station in Przemysl, Poland

It comes as the United Nations said that there are 2.5 million refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. 

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted: “The number of refugees from Ukraine — tragically — has reached today 2.5m.

“We also estimate that about two million people are displaced inside Ukraine.

“Millions forced to leave their homes by this senseless war.”