Fifty Ukrainian orphans and their carers will begin the final leg of their journey to safety in Scotland today after being helped by a charity set up by Hibs football club.

The youngsters – ranging in age from 2-19 – are being flown to London and will enjoy a day of sightseeing tomorrow before continuing their journey on Wednesday.

The Dnipro Kids charity was set up by supporters of Hibs in 2005 following a visit to a orphanage while the team were playing a European tie against Dnipro.

Dnipro Kids Chairman Steven Carr, who led the evacuation effort from Lviv in Ukraine and Poland, said both the UK and Scottish Governments had assisted in the rescue effort but said the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford had "pushing things over the line".

He said: “We are just thankful and relieved that we are getting the kids to the safety of the UK, and to Scotland, at last.

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"We’ve known these children and their carers for many years, and when they said they wanted to get out we were determined to help.

"We must pay tribute to the unstinting work done on our behalf behind the scenes by Ian Blackford MP, who helped push things over the line and helped get things done. We’re grateful to Ian.

The charity said they had been greatly assisted by organisations including Group Arche, Save A Child, the charity Magen David Adom UK and CEO Daniel Burger, who helped to organise the Virgin Airlines flight.

Mr Blackford said: “This is an extraordinary and uplifting story – fans of a football club, moved by an orphanage visit far from home, creating a charity to work in support and culminating in this amazing effort.

“As a Hibs fan myself, this has been a source of great pride and I was delighted and privileged to help. It has been an at times arduous process but bringing these children to safety has been an absolute vindication of all the hard work.

"They will head to Scotland where I know they will be enveloped in warmth and welcome.”

“I would like to thank all those involved in making this happen, including Lord Harrington, for his help and assistance overcoming hurdles, and for the determination of the Scottish Government to do all it could to help."

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It comes after the Scottish politician accused deputy PM Dominic Raab of dragging his feet over their case.

Mr Blackford claimed that Home Office paperwork had delayed their journey to Scotland.

Mr Raab said it was a “heart-rending situation” and he wanted to do “all we can” but indicated the situation was complex and involved the Ukrainian government.

Kevin Foster, junior Home Office minister later suggested permission for the children to move from Poland had not been granted by the Ukrainian Government, which is ultimately the guardian of the orphans.