NICOLA Sturgeon and opposition party leaders have co-signed a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson again urging the UK government to waive visas requirements for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.

The First Minister said a lack of clarity from the UK Government and complicated visa processes were getting in the way of allowing Scotland to welcome refugees from Ukraine. 

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Sturgeon was joined by the leaders of the Scottish Greens, Scottish Labour and Scottish LibDems in making the call - but not by the Scottish Tories.

The FM said that changes to the scheme made in recent days to extend the number of refugees with family links into the UK was welcome but said it was still "not enough". 

She wrote: "As we witness the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II, and with more than two million Ukrainians now having fled since the Russian invasion began, the UK must take action and respond fully, with humanity and compassion.

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"The desperation of those fleeing and displaced by the war in Ukraine are clearly distressing and heart-rending. We cannot and must not turn our back on the people of Ukraine.

"The Home Secretary’s announcement today, detailing the introduction of an entirely online application processes for Ukrainian family members seeking to come to the UK without the requirement to attend a Visa Application Centre, is a welcome step in the right direction.

"As is the decision to further extend the Ukrainian Family Visa Scheme. It is clear though that it is not enough."

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The FM added that it was "neither reasonable nor morally acceptable" to expect refugees fleeing war to go through "complex bureaucratic processes" in order to reach safety.

She added: "Therefore we urge you to follow the example of European countries including the Republic of Ireland by waiving all visa requirements for any Ukrainian nationals seeking refuge in the UK, as well as implementing the temporary protection regulations. We must provide sanctuary first and treat people with respect and humanity.

"Scotland stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and deeply wishes to provide them with practical support, aid and refuge. We are ready to provide that to people in need right now."

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The First Minister also urged the Prime Minister for details on the humanitarian sponsorship pathway announced on March 1. 

She continued: "Including when it will open and confirmation that the UK Government will provide the flexibility and the financial support needed to allow us in Scotland and communities across the UK to contribute.

"As a further demonstration of this solidarity, the following leaders of Scotland’s political parties have co-signed this letter.

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"I hope you will agree with our collective call for urgent action to be taken by the UK Government in dealing with this crisis; to allow people to enter the UK and provide a comprehensive and funded settlement programme and package of support for those seeking refugee here."

It comes as the Scottish Government announced Neil Gray will be given special responsibilities as the minister for refugees from Ukraine and will be in charge of co-ordinating the response.