Midlothian space company concerned about its Ukrainian staff

Wednesday March 2nd 2022


Midlothian MP Owen Thompson.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame and Midlothian MP Owen Thompson are jointly calling on the UK Government to open a corporate sponsorship pathway for Ukrainians working for British companies and their families.

It follows Midlothian-based space technology company Skyrora raising concerns about more than 40 of their Ukrainian employees based at their site in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Ms Grahame and Mr Thompson are asking the UK Government as a first step to allow companies in this situation to sponsor their employees and their families to come to the UK if they wish without the need for a visa. The UK Government has said they “will establish a humanitarian sponsorship pathway, which will open up a route to the UK for Ukrainians who may not have family ties with the UK but who are able to match with individuals, charities, businesses, and community groups” but have not yet given further details.

Ms Grahame said:

“The UK’s current position on refugees from Ukraine is an unacceptable and, frankly, shameful embarrassment that goes nowhere near far enough. The First Minister has already called on the Prime Minister to follow the example of the European Union in allowing anyone seeking refuge from Ukraine entry with no visa requirements – the UK Government is currently alone amongst our European allies in forcing Ukrainians seeking safety to jump through its restrictive visa hoops to reach sanctuary here.

“Ukraine is a country with an international outlook and it’s not surprising therefore that there are a number of UK-based companies, like Skyrora, with sites in Ukraine employing Ukrainians. Whilst assisting those with family ties to the UK is of course right, the UK Government must also look at those with employment ties as these are people who have colleagues and professional connections in the UK, often with a job waiting for them. If this route is opened up to those who want it it is vital that families are allowed to come too – to not allow this would be utterly cruel.

“This is the Ukrainian people’s hour of need and we need to do all we can for them.”

Mr Thompson said:

“The UK Government is letting down the people of Ukraine who are fleeing this appalling conflict.

“Tinkering around the edges of their restrictive visa policies is a pitiful response to the crisis – we need to waiver visas for all Ukrainians who are fleeing for their lives as our EU friends have done.

“I know the staff at Skyrora are desperately worried about their colleagues in Dnipro so I welcome any route to enable them to reach the UK safely.

“Greater clarity and urgency is needed about the Home Secretary’s vague announcement yesterday – but this is still far short of the support we should be providing for all of those who need it.”

Volodymyr Levykin from Skyrora said:

“Currently, the whole world is witnessing the atrocities in Ukraine and more has to be done to ensure the safety of innocent lives as the Russian invasion intensifies. At Skyrora, we are gravely concerned about our colleagues in Ukraine and we are doing everything we can at this point to support them in any way we can. However, it is a difficult situation as many of our employees currently cannot leave the country and we have little understanding of the contingencies there will be for them if they were to come to the UK.

“The UK Government has been vocal in its condemnation of Russia’s acts of war, but now is the time for action. The British space sector and the global technology sector along with many others, has benefited greatly from Ukrainian talent. It is crucial that the British Government and many others respond and help to protect the Ukrainian people when they are at their most vulnerable. If not, those people will only face further destruction over the coming weeks.”

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