6,000 people in Northern Ireland volunteer to house Ukrainian refugees

Judith Hill reporting for UTV Live from Mallusk.

Around 6,000 people in Northern Ireland have volunteered to house Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of their country - and the first refugees could be linked to families from this weekend.

People have responded in droves to the call for homes for refugees, but senior sources at Stormont are warning this is an operation on an unprecedented scale.

Around 9,000 Ukrainians could be homed in Northern Ireland, but figures inside government emphasised that these numbers are uncertain as nobody can predict the length of the war.

Every refugee will have to be assigned to a host family and safeguarding must be carried out before allocations are made.

Darren Ferguson of the refugee advocacy group Beyond Skin is worried that, despite the kindness of the general public, the scheme "has not been thought through" by the Government.

That same kindness is seeing thousands of people In Northern Ireland donate supplies to those still in Ukraine.

Managing the volume of supplies is a huge challenge. Dr Alexey Titievsky is originally from Ukraine and is helping a warehouse in Mallusk to organise aid being sent to his war-torn home country.

He is in no doubt of the necessity of such supplies: "The demand for medical supplies, for organisation, for field hospitals, it's huge."

As the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is ongoing, supplies and host families for refugees will continue to be in high demand.