APRIL 2022: News from local MP Thangam Debbonaire

March 24 2022

Actions must match your generosity

IT is hard to comprehend the scale of the tragedy since Russia invaded Ukraine a few weeks ago. I find it terrifying that Ukrainians were going about their normal lives until a few weeks ago. Now their country is being torn apart and millions of people are forced to leave their lives behind.

I have been in communication with several Ukrainians living in Bristol who are trying to bring family members and friends from Ukraine but are struggling with bureaucratic problems. Their stories are desperately sad. I am doing everything I can to help them by asking for clarifications from the Home Office and Foreign Office and contacting the government on their behalf.

Hundreds of you have written to me, asking me what I’m doing in Parliament to end this crisis. I’ve been working with Labour colleagues to push on three different fronts. 

Firstly, we’ve been demanding that the government step up the UK’s humanitarian support, getting crucial supplies into the country and to cities like Kyiv while we still can and supporting neighbouring states, such as Poland, who are hosting most of the refugees.

Secondly, we’re pushing to improve the help for refugees. Many Ukrainians want to come to the UK to join family or friends. The UK should be helping them. Labour has been pushing the government hard to create realistic routes for people to come here without impossible bureaucratic obstacles.

As this crisis unfolded, the government insisted that there were routes for Ukrainians to come to the UK applying for existing visas, for example as fruit pickers. This was not good enough. After weeks of pressure, the government has now opened two routes for Ukrainians to come to the UK. 

As I write, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how people offering their homes can be matched with refugees. I’m watching closely to ensure they actually deliver, and help Ukrainians get to safety. I have put details of these schemes on my website. Please get in touch if you need help accessing these schemes.

The third part of this is putting pressure on Putin to squeeze his powerful networks and force him to back down.

In my weekly speeches in Parliament I have been pushing the government to impose the hardest possible sanctions against everyone linked to Putin and against the Russian government’s interests. I am pleased ministers are finally listening to what we have been saying for years, and cutting out the influence of corrupt Russian money in the UK. But sanctions and economic restrictions should be going further. And importantly, these sanctions should be properly enforced, something I raised in Parliament a few weeks ago.

I am so proud of the way Bristolians have responded to this crisis. In your emails to me, many of you have asked how to donate money, goods or your homes. It is my job to push the government to mirror this generosity with real meaningful action.

Contct me at thangam.debbonaire.mp@parliament.uk. Alternatively, call 0117 3790980 between 10am and 4pm Monday-Friday.