Ukraine refugees on Edinburgh cruise ship in Leith are rehomed to 'alternative accommodation'
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The MS Victoria, docked in Leith, accommodated more than 1,000 Ukrainians seeking refuge from the Russian invasion. The ship was used while appropriate housing was sourced, when the Scottish Government paused its super-sponsor scheme in July 2022 due to significant demand. More than 20,000 Ukrainians travelled to Scotland through the scheme. However, the Scottish Government's contract with Forth Ports has now ended, meaning alternative housing had to be found.
Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "Since the start of the illegal war against Ukraine, almost 25,000 people with a Scottish sponsor have arrived in the UK, more than 20,000 of them through the Scottish Government's super sponsor scheme. The MS Victoria was secured to provide an immediate place of safety to displaced people and was always intended to be a temporary measure.
"Ahead of the contract ending on July 11, the ship has now been fully and safely disembarked, with all guests supported into onward accommodation. I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved in supporting the displaced people from Ukraine resident on the ship, as well as those who have helped them move into alternative accommodation."
Figures released by the Scottish Liberal Democrats on Monday, July 10, revealed a further 3,180 Ukrainians were placed in welcome accommodation such as hotels as of June 5. The Home Office had previously expressed its intention to house asylum seekers on the Leith ship once the current contact ended – sparking outrage from Edinburgh City Council leader Cammy Day and First Minister H umza Yousaf .
The UK Government said the decision was due to a ‘significant increase in illegal, unnecessary and dangerous Channel crossings’ leading to ‘incredible strain on accommodation services for asylum seekers’. However, Forth Ports said no contact has been made from the UK Government and the plans could not be accommodated at the facility due to commitments in creating an offshore renewables hub.