Australia grants temporary visas to 4,000 Ukrainians

The UK has opened a scheme for people to volunteer to host Ukrainian refugees. It was overwhelmed with over 120,000 people signing up as well as big companies offering help. Airbnb also reported that people across Europe were offering their short-term rentals to Ukrainians for free.

Human rights and refugee advocates and a range of politicians, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have called on Australia to host a special group of Ukrainian refugees.

People who fled the war in Ukraine walk towards a humanitarian train in Krakow, Poland, to relocate refugees to Berlin.Credit:Omar Marques/Getty

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered Australian assistance for the settlement of Ukrainian refugees, citing the temporary shelter program offered to Kosovo refugees in 1999 as an option being considered. Under this program, the government provided the refugees with food, accommodation in unused military barracks, health care, a minimum weekly allowance and the right to work up to 20 hours a week.

The government has also accelerated visa applications for Ukrainians. More than 4,000 visas have been granted in the four weeks since the start of the conflict.

All are temporary visas and mostly visitor visas, although applications through family, student and business channels have also been approved.

Many of these visas are for people who already have connections in Australia, for example through family, a government source said.

At present, no request has been made to Australia to offer humanitarian visas to Ukraine. Mr Morrison and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke have previously indicated that the government is ready to expand the humanitarian program if necessary.

Mr Romaniw said it was too soon for most people in Ukraine or fleeing the country to make the big life decisions that moving to Australia would entail.

“We stage it. We are working on it. And I think people will get a good result in the end,” he said.

“But we have to understand that people are…traumatized. You have young children, you have people who don’t know what day it is.

“I have five grandchildren under the age of eight, they all have scooters and teddy bears. And when I see kids coming across the border with scooters and teddy bears and a bag and that’s all they have, you know, it brings tears to your eyes.

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