Leicestershire has a 'moral duty' to help Ukrainian refugees, say senior county councillors

Cllr Nick Rushton and Cllr Deborah Taylor said the entire county has to unite to support Ukrainians under fire as the Russian assault on their sovereign independent country is stepped up

By Red Williams
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 9:40 am
Leicestershire County Council
Leicestershire County Council

Senior county councillors today said Leicestershire has a “moral duty” to help Ukrainian refugees fleeing the horrific Russian military invasion.

Cllr Nick Rushton and Cllr Deborah Taylor said the entire county has to unite to support Ukrainians under fire as the Russian assault on their sovereign independent country is stepped up.

Council leader Cllr Rushton and Cllr Taylor, the deputy leader, have jointly written to MPs in Leicestershire, district and borough leaders and parish councils highlighting the huge humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine.

They have also sent their letter to Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews and Chief Constable Simon Cole.

Cllr Rushton and Cllr Taylor are urging people to be ready to help refugees who may end up in the county seeking a safe haven.

Over 700,000 people are already said to have fled their war-devastated homeland.

The Government said the UK could take in more than 200,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Councillors Rushton and Taylor said they were “appalled” by the brutal invasion as they insisted: “Without any ceasefire imminent, it is inevitable more people are fleeing the country.

“We all stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in opposing the horror which is being unleashed upon them by Russia and that each and every one of us stands ready to help, however and wherever we can.

“The UK government will undoubtedly be writing to all local council leaders asking us for our help and expertise, to make the national plans work locally.

“As local leaders, we all have a moral obligation to do all that we can to help the people and government of Ukraine, and to do what we can in the effort to stop Russia from wreaking more havoc in Europe.”

They added: “United we will stand in the opposition of tyranny and we are certain that ultimately Putin will fail but in the short-term, Ukrainian children and families need our help.

“With your collective help and support, we can ensure that those fleeing war can look forward to a safe and happy home in Leicestershire.”

They have spoken out as Harborough District Council leader Phil King has pledged to take in and look after traumatised Ukrainian refugees here.

The European Union is warning that over seven million men, women and children could ultimately flee Ukraine – triggering Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War ended in 1945.

Cllr King told the Harborough Mail yesterday: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is absolutely horrific.

“I’ve got no idea what’s going on inside Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s mind but this horrible war is totally mind-boggling – and it’s very frightening.

“We are ready as a council to do what ever we can to support and stand by the Ukrainian people,” said the Conservative council boss.

“We have sent a letter to the Ukrainian ambassador in London expressing our total solidarity with their people.

“Our Government is now drawing up its policy on taking in people from Ukraine seeking safe refuge here in the UK.

“We are fully prepared to do our bit by helping to put up and accommodate refugees here in Harborough.

Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrats on the council, backed him up as he told us: “I was privileged to sign the letter that our council sent to Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK at the end of last week.

“Along with every other right-thinking person I am truly appalled by the terrifying death toll and the sheer scale of damage that we are seeing in Ukraine.

“We have to do everything that we can to help and support refugees coming here from Ukraine as they look to us to give them a safe haven.

“We extend the welcoming hand of friendship to them all,” said Cllr Knowles.