Exeter joins Devon councils pledging support to Ukrainians fleeing conflict

Local authority leaders across Devon have spoken out in concern for the people of Ukraine and their families, following the Russian invasion.

Team Devon authorities, including Exeter, Devon County Council, other district councils and the Devon Association of Local Councils, have pledged to work together to support Ukrainian refugees seeking sanctuary in the UK, and have each condemned Russia’s actions.

They have agreed to give particular support to families in Devon whose relatives in Ukraine are fleeing the conflict.

Individually, councils have also taken steps to cut Russian links, such as through contracts for energy provision.  And any few remaining investments within the Devon Pension Fund, linked to Russian assets, are being sold off quickly.

Devon councils have long worked together, alongside health and voluntary sector partners and local communities, to provide safe sanctuary and resettlement for refugees, most recently Syrian families and those fleeing conflict in Afghanistan.

Cllr Phil Bialyk, Leader of Exeter City Council, said Exeter stood in full support for the people of Ukraine.

The Leader has written to the Home Secretary advising her that Exeter has always been a city which welcomes refugees from all over the world in their hour of need and would support Ukrainian refugees.

Cllr Bialyk said: “I am proud of my Ukrainian heritage and no-one will be surprised to hear that I have watched the unfolding news of the Russian government’s invasion with horror.

“I know that the whole of Exeter supports the people of Ukraine as they face a humanitarian crisis, and as a city we want to do everything we can to show our solidarity and support for them.”

Next week the Council will discuss a motion to suspend Exeter’s civic relationship with its Russian twin city of Yaroslavl because of the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Leader of Devon County Council and Chair of the Team Devon partnership of authorities Cllr John Hart said: “We are deeply concerned for those desperate people escaping conflict in Ukraine in huge numbers.  We agreed that we have a duty to do what we can in Devon to support families fleeing Ukraine to join their family members here in the UK.”

The government has outlined support for up to 200,000 Ukrainian refugees under ‘temporary visa concessions’. And further visas are being granted to those currently within the UK, including specific groups of workers, students and other visitors.

Already Devon District Councils are receiving offers of accommodation from Devon residents, for Ukrainian families.

Cllr Bob Deed, Chair of the Devon Districts Forum, said: “Our communities across Devon have already shown a willingness to help the people of Ukraine and I am glad that our councils can work together, in the coming days and months, to offer assistance to people whose lives have been changed immeasurably by this war.

“While details of local support are being drawn up I would encourage anyone who wishes to help to donate to the UK’s emergency fund.”

The UK Disasters Emergency Committee has launched its Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, drawing together funding and action across major charities and Non-Governmental Organisations to support people displaced through the conflict.

The government has pledged to match up to £20 million of any donations from the public.

The fastest way to donate to a DEC appeal is by donating online.  Visit https://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal

Alternatively you can call 01204 770822, or use other ways to donate. https://dechelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/categories/200731191-Donations-Gift-Aid

For more details of the support being offered in Exeter visit our website




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