Ukrainian families are flocking to Calais and many are being denied visas in what Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called “a shameful situation”.
(Image: Charlie Varley/varleypix.com)
A Ukrainian family stuck in Calais tonight asked the government to let them into the UK as British officials turned away desperate refugees.
Families are flocking to the French port after traveling more than 1,000 miles from their war-torn country in hopes of joining their relatives in Britain.
But despite a pledge by Home Secretary Priti Patel to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukrainians, many are denied visas because they are not “immediate family”. We can reveal that refugees in Calais are encouraged to apply to other European countries instead.
Tonight, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called it “a shameful situation” and called for an explanation from Ms Patel. Refugee charity Care4Calais, which is trying to help families enter the UK, also reacted furiously.
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A spokesman said: “Our government needs to do more. If they want to show solidarity with the Ukrainians, it takes more than words.”
Ukrainian-born British national Victoria Perebeynis, 53, who teaches English, traveled to the Polish border near Krakowiec to pick up four members of her extended family.
She planned to bring them to her home in Oxford but said: “The British embassy asked us to fill in application forms which were refused. And they were told that they had to apply for other countries.”
The relatives Victoria is hoping to help are her cousin Valentina, 75, daughter-in-law Maiia Magda, 46, Maiia’s son Glib, 12, and mother Ekateria Pergat, also 75 and disabled.
Maiia’s husband stayed in Ukraine to fight against the Russians.
The frightened family from the shelled Energodar region traveled four days to reach France.
Victoria said: “Valentina is so distressed and depressed. We couldn’t open the driveway windows because she was afraid someone might shoot her. She and Ekateria still believe they are being attacked. You have lost everything. They traveled across Europe with a sock between them and a piece of underwear. That was all they had when they got to the border.
“Her whole life is out of whack.” Care4Calais is helping the family challenge the visa denial.
Around 130 Ukrainians live in the Center Europeen de Sejour in Calais. More are expected. But our strict entry criteria only apply to parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and siblings of UK residents.
A government program that allows refugees entry if they can be sponsored by an individual or organization is not operational.
Boris Johnson has pledged to take in 200,000 refugees. But other European countries have acted faster and pledged to absorb many more.
Ms Cooper said tonight: “Families who have fled the Russian bombardment and are desperate to seek refuge here with relatives should not be stranded in Calais because of the Home Office.
“It’s shameful. Priti Patel must explain this shameful situation. People need help now.”
The Home Office said the sponsorship route would be “opening soon”. But they couldn’t tell us when to start.
Meanwhile, Ukrainians working here as fruit and vegetable pickers are panicking over confusing changes to their visas. They have been extended, but the pickers can only work for the farmers they sponsored – they are not allowed to renew their contracts.
The charity Work Rights Center said, “You’re basically stranded.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/brit-stuck-calais-uk-turns-26396300 Briton stuck in Calais as Britain turns away desperate refugees in 'disgraceful situation' - World News