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Mark Drakeford tells heartwarming story that sums up his ambition for Wales as a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’

27 Feb 2022 4 minute read
Picture by the Welsh Government

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.”

‘Worried’

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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Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
7 months ago

The current UK government is not known for its gracious attitude to migrants and refugees. In its view these people are not seeking refuge but taking jobs and benefits, i.e scrounging. Ukrainians are also Europeans, another area of resentment by the Tories in Westminster. We in Wales must cast out these xenophobic views and welcome anyone who needs our help. They are not scrounging and are often extremely hard working people seeking a better life.

Cathy Hill
Cathy Hill
7 months ago

That story illustrates the Cymru I love. I myself came here for santuary twenty-six years ago when I was a teenage girl who had been rather silly, I had messed up my life, my health and my mind, I came here to live with my mum. Cymru and its land and its beauty and its people helped heal me, gave me welcome, shelter and warmth. At times I have forgotten that and said/typed foolish, nasty things in anger and fear. But I am truly grateful for Cymru, extremely proud to be part of it now and I welcome those who… Read more »

Lionel Schwarz
Lionel Schwarz
7 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Hill

Can I quote you when said they “chip shops i Wales should serve urine and faeces to the people of Dudley because that is what their town smells like.”

All because of something their MP said?

You try to virtue signal it away on the back of poor Ukrainians.

Lionel Schwarz
Lionel Schwarz
7 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Hill

Weren’t you also responsible for:

“are open to being vomited an urinated on, overrun with middle-class English people and their vile kids again.”

Classy!

Dave
Dave
7 months ago

Mark is correct and the words he uses is appealing to the warmth of the Welsh People, we as a nation are grossly under populated, Kiev has a population similar to that of Wales on a fraction of the land mass. I want #IndyWales and 50% need to vote for it, so lets increase our population with people who are without fear and not blinkered by English supremacy and then bob’s your uncle and Sally is your aunt. Then we can join the UN as an independent country and really p**s Putin off.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
7 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Yes indeed. We also need to be thinking at a prctical level about how we can help refugees who finally manage to get through Priti Patel’s iron knickers. They will need housing, probably mental health support, probably language classes, not to mention all the ‘stuff’ that one need to set up a home, especially if all you have come with is a small suitcase. Should we perhaps start a fund though Crowd Funding to help with that? After all the Tory Government has cut funding to Wales in every way it can so the Senedd may have the will, but… Read more »

Lionel Schwarz
Lionel Schwarz
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

England has large Ukrainian communities,schools, university departments, cathedral etc.

When the a Poles came to South Wales, there was a long standing tendency to call their women prostitutes in many quarters.

I feel your words come from a place of moral superiority more than anywhere else.

Lionel Schwarz
Lionel Schwarz
7 months ago
Reply to  Dave

So you want to take Ukrainian refugees in to mould them into Welsh Nationalists? Presumably out of gratitude?

Wow.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
7 months ago
Reply to  Lionel Schwarz

Pardon my confusion. I thought the idea was to provide a safe haven for Ukranian refugees while the war is ongoing. Presumably when it is over and a just peace has been restored they will mostly wish to return, except of course for those who have decided to become Welsh Nationalists.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Lionel Schwarz

What’s nationalist about globalist socialism?

Last edited 7 months ago by I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
7 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Typical socialist slurry. Population density: Wales 148 per sq. km.
China 153 per sq. km.
Present Tory UK Gov. is peppered with immigrants!

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