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Victoria’s plan for Ukrainian refugees shows that half a million people are fleeing the war zone

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Thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing military violence in their home country could be relocated to Victoria Covid’s new quarantine facility after Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said the state would welcome the displaced.

Australia gives priority to visas for Ukrainians fleeing the war, initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has stepped up his military attack and surrounded the country’s largest cities.

As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that about four million people may be displaced, Mr Andrews said on Wednesday that the new state facility in Miklham could become a potential home in the short term.

“Currently, this is an option,” he told reporters.

“It would be useful and important in a variety of contexts, whether it be natural disasters or, unfortunately, potentially used when it comes to a real humanitarian crisis.”

Camera iconDaniel Andrews said it was unclear how many Ukrainians would need resettlement. NCA NewsWire / David Crossling Credit: News Corp Australia

More than 500,000 Ukrainians have fled the country, and 160,000 are leaving.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week confirmed that the government is processing visas quickly and getting about 100 visas a day.

While some visas will be offered on the basis of short-term qualifications or education, Australia also offers permanent humanitarian visas to some Ukrainians.

It is unclear how many seats will be available.

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Camera iconVictoria Miklham Quarantine Institution. Credit: News Corp Australia

“We will do everything in our power to help temporarily or permanently support all those fleeing Ukraine, Ukrainians, all those displaced as a result of this conflict,” Andrews said.

“It’s probably too early for us to talk about what form it will take, but we’re ready to do it.”

Melbourne authorities have unanimously voted to suspend twinning relations with Russia’s St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown.

The council entered into a twin city relationship with St. Petersburg in 1989, when the city was known as Leningrad.

Lord Mayor Sally Cap said the suspension means any support for councils between cities will stop.

“We condemned the acts of violent aggression by the Russian government and noted that we stand with the people of Ukraine, the people of St. Petersburg and the victims of war everywhere,” she said.

Opposition leader Victoria Matthew Guy on Wednesday said the council had not gone far enough, and called for a complete end to any relationship.

“Suspension is one thing, but … these relations had to be abolished, the ambassador had to be put on a plane to Moscow,” he said.

“It will be a very strong symbol that Australia says we do not support a dictatorship that is invading democracy.”

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