UNHCR Statement on the UK's Homes for Ukraine scheme

UNHCR has been made aware of increasing reports of Ukrainian women feeling at risk from their sponsors with regards to the “Homes for Ukraine” sponsorship scheme. UNHCR highlights the need for adequate safeguards and vetting measures to be in place against exploitation, as well as adequate support for sponsors. UNHCR believes that a more appropriate matching process could be put in place by ensuring that women and women with children are matched with families or couples, rather than with single men.  Matching done without the appropriate oversight may lead to increasing the risks women may face, in addition to the trauma of displacement, family separation and violence already experienced.    

In addition, UNHCR is concerned about the repercussions should the original UK host prove a potential threat to the safety of the refugee, as well as the six-month time minimum duration indicated in the Homes for Ukraine scheme. UNHCR believes that appropriate training and information are needed to ensure that hosts make an informed decision when applying to become sponsors.  Housing a stranger in an extra bedroom for an extended period is not for some people sustainable. Local authorities already report being overwhelmed in terms of offering financial support to hosts and being able to carry out checks on a timely basis prior to the arrivals of Ukrainians. There will need to be close support and communication between the relevant ministries, councils and vetting processes.