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Drakeford: ‘Wales must respond to Ukraine with the greatest possible generosity’

WELSH Labour Leader Mark Drakeford spoke of a “responsibility to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with “the greatest possible generosity”.
In his keynote speech to Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno – the first in-person event since 2019 – he talked of the discussions he has had with UK Ministers and the warm welcome waiting in Wales for those fleeing conflict.
The First Minister highlighted the gap between the UK Conservative Government’s words and its actions to date.
Mark Drakeford said: “I want to address the dreadful and deeply distressing actions taking place in Ukraine.
The barbaric forces unleashed against the remarkable people of Ukraine are the responsibility of those in power in the Kremlin.
They must be held responsible for every human tragedy and every war crime committed.
It is our responsibility to respond to the war and the humanitarian crisis with economic sanctions of the greatest possible severity and with relief of the greatest possible generosity.
The strength of feeling in Wales and in this hall this morning demand no less.
Conference, in Wales, the response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis has been profound.
People have offered rooms in their homes; they’ve donated clothes and goods and, in these difficult times, they have given money to that cause.
Your Welsh Labour government has donated £4m to the humanitarian effort and yesterday a shipment of medical aid left Wales for Poland, on its way to Ukraine. More will follow soon.
We stand ready to help people as soon as they begin arriving in the UK.
But we’ve heard this morning, unfortunately, more than two weeks since the first bombs fell and bullets were fired, the UK Government is yet to play its full part.
This is a government which worries about the human rights of oligarchs but the Home Secretary sends exhausted refugees on a European hunt for a bureaucrat willing to accept their visa application.
I’ve had a number of chances to discuss the help Wales is ready to provide people in Ukraine with UK Ministers over last two weeks.
I’ve spoken about our Nation of Sanctuary approach and the warm welcome waiting here, as soon as the UK Government sorts out its visas.
UK Ministers tell me they share the same intentions.
But if, as the Prime Minister says, he stands shoulder to shoulder with people in Ukraine, that must seem a very long way off to all those who are dealing with what charities on the ground are calling a ‘chaotic, heartless and unkind’ response when trying to access the Prime Minister’s good will.
The gap between what the Conservative Government says, and the actions it delivers is shamefully wide.
Shameful to the UK’s reputation around the world.
Shamefully at odds with the instinctive generosity of so many people across our country.
And most shamefully of all, a real dereliction of the moral and practical duty we have to do everything we can to help those innocent people whose lives have been destroyed by Russian action.
Conference, so many of the people displaced from Ukraine are children. Women and the elderly make up most of the remainder.
The Home Secretary worries about security but surely it’s their security which should be uppermost in our minds.
Let the message from this Conference be clear:
No more prevarication
No more claiming to lead the world, while being the world’s leading foot-dragger.
Lift the hostile environment regime which still expects impossible bureaucratic hurdles to be overcome in the middle of a war zone.
Refugees from Ukraine will find that, here in Wales, we will do everything we can to make a reality of the generosity which comes pouring out of our people, and offer them the sanctuary they need.
Conference, the affinity people in Wales feel with the people of Ukraine reaches deep back into our own history and that sense of social solidarity which has been so evident in the last two years.”