Mark Drakeford tells heartwarming story that sums up his ambition for Wales as a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’
Mark Drakeford has told a heartwarming story of a meeting with a refugee in Wales, while explaining why we should welcome those fleeing the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast he told the story of his meeting in the street with a Syrian refugee who had made a home in Wales and was raising her child here.
He was asked by the presenter what it means “in practical terms” to call Wales a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’.
“Well, in practical terms, it means doing everything we can to provide those practical things,” he said. “Accommodation education, health care, to people who come to resettle and remake their lives in Wales.
“But it’s more than just services. It’s also about an attitude of mind.
“I was in my own constituency just some weeks ago and crossing a car park to get where I was going. I was late, hurrying along and I could see somebody in the distance coming towards me it was a young woman.
“She had a baby in a pram with her and she stopped me as I walked, and she said, I have come to Wales from Syria. I just wanted you to know what a warm welcome we have received, ever since we have been here.
“She pointed to the baby in the pram which he said he was born after we arrived in Wales, and he will grow up to be a citizen of Wales.
“When I talk about a Nation of Sanctuary, it means services of course, but it’s that attitude of mind and that sense of reaching out and welcoming people whose needs are so enormous.”
Mark Drakeford however said that there had been a “slightly grudging spirit” in the UK Government Home Office when it came to discussing the alleviation of Ukraine’s refugee crisis.
“I think there will already be people wanting to come to the UK because they will have family and friends,” he said.
“Here we have a Ukrainian population in Wales already. They will be desperately worried for the people they know and love in the Ukraine and they will be people we know already wanting to make their way to the United Kingdom.
“As the position becomes clearer, then the United Kingdom to will need and I believe want to play our part in responding to the humanitarian tragedy that we see unfolding.”
He added: “There’s a slightly grudging spirit in the Home Offices announcement constantly talking about concessions being made to people who are already here. So I think we will in as I say, as the position clarifies, we will need to go beyond that.
“And it isn’t just the actions themselves. It’s the spirit in which they are made, and will be important to establish our reputation as a country, which in the face of these enormously disturbing events is prepared to play our part in responding to those people who are at the very sharpest end of it all.
“What I think I’m calling for is a continuation of the close engagement we have had to the UK Government in recent days, so that we can plan together for the moment when we will need to be able to welcome a greater number of people from the Ukraine into the United Kingdom.
“I think it’s fair to allow the UK Government some time to see how events unfold, but planning and preparation needs to happen now. There was a good start of that last week, and I am very keen to see that continue.”
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