A Ukrainian family that arrived in Northern Ireland after fleeing the war-torn country has welcomed a newborn baby.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council deputy mayor Beth Adger recently hosted a reception for a number of families at The Braid in Ballymena, which the child’s parents attended.
Ms Adger said the refugees were “so pleased and humbled to be here and away from their country” and thanked the people of Ballymena and surrounding areas for all the work they are doing on their behalf.
“They are so thankful and to all the local churches in the town that got together to help out,” she added.
The Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has reported that as of July 26, there have been 39 arrivals in Mid and East Antrim from Ukraine. In neighbouring Antrim and Newtownabbey, there have been 33.
Twelve council staff work in the Ukraine Assistance Centre at The Braid which has been operating weekly on Thursdays since April 14. A number of statutory and non-statutory representatives are also in attendance.
It provides a “one-stop shop for advice and services for both Ukrainians and host families and has proved very beneficial to date”.
The Government’s Department for International Trade also thanked Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for its “positive and forward-leaning role” in supporting refugees from Ukraine.
To date, 1,146 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Northern Ireland. Of these, 970 have arrived through the Homes for Ukraine scheme and 176 through the Ukraine Family Scheme.
There have been 1,797 Homes for Ukraine applications connected to a Northern Ireland address and 1,300 visas relating to an address in Northern Ireland have been issued.
Also, 661 sponsor addresses have been referred for checks, 381 are considered suitable pending a final check and 87 have passed all checks. Fifty-five sponsors have been paid at a cost of £37,800.
In response to correspondence from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, the Department for International Trade’s Ukraine strategy and co-ordination team has asked it to provide more information about concerns that sanctions against Russia are being “circumvented”.
The council has been asked to pass on any concerns to HMRC’s fraud and tax avoidance reporting service.