Ukraine-Russia: Fife gears up to welcome refugees and reviews all investments for any Russian links

Fife Council has outlined a range of practical measures it is carrying out to support Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian hostility.

By Craig Smith, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 12:07 pm

Chief executive Steve Grimmond confirmed that the local authority has already had high level talks about Fife welcoming and resettling refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine and described the numbers being talked about as “tragically enormous”.

A core officer group has been established to oversee any resettlement activity, while Fife Voluntary Action is co-ordinating voluntary support and the huge volume of donations which Fifers have handed in to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Fife Council has also actively reviewed all investments, contracts and procurement activity to ensure none of those are involved with Russian-related holdings, while initial feedback from the Fife Pension Fund is that the fund has no direct involvement with any Russian equity investment.

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A protester with a Ukranian flag demonstrates outside the United Nations headquarters in New York. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Furthermore, the council is to write to the UK Government, the Russian Ambassador and the United Nations to express its “disgust and condemnation” of Russia’s actions.

On the prospect of refugee resettlement in Fife, Mr Grimmond, who is understood to have personal connections to Ukraine, confirmed: “We would intend to bring forward proposals on this at the earliest possible juncture and we have begun high level modelling on the basis of what might be several hundred refugees that might require refuge and assistance in Fife and we are seeking urgent discussions with the Home Office in relation to those endeavours.

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“There’s been a significant outpouring of support in communities across Fife and we’re now seeing a wide range of donations or other items which have been offered up in recent days.

Steve Grimmond, chief executive, Fife Council

“As an employer, we are reaching out to employees who are Ukrainian or have Ukrainian connections to offer any support that we can at this point in time and as soon as practicable we would intend to fly the Ukrainian flag from our main council buildings as a mark of support and solidarity with the people in Ukraine.”

Council co-leader David Ross opened Thursday’s policy and co-ordination committee with a message of support for Ukraine.

He said: “We’ve all watched with the utmost horror the events unfolding in Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion and we’re witnessing an evolving humanitarian crisis on a scale that hasn’t been seen in Europe since the Second World War.

“I’m sure the council will join me in condemning these actions by the Russian government and offering our wholehearted support to the people of Ukraine.

“Our thoughts and support must first and foremost go to the people of Ukraine but we recognise that this is not only a brutal assault on Ukraine but an attack on democracy everywhere.”

Conservative Cupar councillor Tony Miklinski said his father’s family comes from an area around 25 miles from the Ukranian border in Poland.

“My auntie used to tell me how she watched the Jews passing through the railhead on their way down to Auschwitz back then,” he said.

“Now my cousins, of which I have four there, and their families are watching refugees heading in the other direction.

“This is scarcely believable but in their experience this is the way life has been historically.

“This is terrible and it could get so much worse.”

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