To exclude, to expel:
Despite Priti Patel’s promise to “stand by” the refugees, the province of Bureaux de la was closed when the Sunday Mirror visited on Saturday
Image: Phil Harris)
Metal shutters at a British “pop-up” processing center in Northern France show how Britain seems to be closed off to desperate Ukrainian refugees.
The local government building in Arras was intended to help refugees whose passports were left behind under Russian bombing.
But despite Interior Minister Priti Patel’s promise to “stand by” the victims of Putin’s war, the province of Bureaux de la was closed when we visited today.
Home Offie said it was “open for appointments”, with no pedestrians in, but an employee said no applications from Ukrainian nationals had been processed all day.
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And us refugees, another center in Paris was also closed for the weekend – the Interior Ministry said it was open from 9am to noon but will close today.
Meanwhile, refugees – many confused about where they can apply to enter Britain – are being left with nowhere to turn.
British-Ukrainian citizen Victoria Perebeynis, 53, tried to bring her extended family, including two 75-year-old women, to her home in Oxford after collecting them from the Polish border.
They have now been homeless for two weeks, with fears her cousin Valentina Pronina, 75, could die before she reaches the UK after she passed out on the way to the Paris visa centre.
“We can’t wait two more days, refugees don’t have time to rest on weekends, this is a constant reality,” Victoria said.
“When we arrived in Paris, we were told we had to leave and return to the office on Monday.
“I was extremely scared. I’m not sure Valentina will even make it to the UK before she has a stroke, before she dies.”
Initially, the Government said the visa center would be in Lille, where many refugees gathered, but later moved to Arras 40 miles away.
Many families, including Victoria’s, are staying in budget accommodation in the Lille suburb of Tourcoing.
At the Lemon Hotel – where Red Cross volunteers are handing out food and clothing – 30 people are said to have fled the conflict.
Also caught up in the visa turmoil is Yulia Smernova, 41, who is trying to contact her mother in London.
Yulia, a senior in medical school, spent the first three days of the conflict in a bomb shelter on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Her 16-year-old daughter had accompanied her on a week-long journey through Europe through Moldova, but her son, 19, was forced to stay.
Since then, she discovered her house on the outskirts of Borodyanka had been destroyed by shelling.
She said: “I received an email today saying that my visa application has been received, but I don’t know if I will be accepted or not.
“We left everything we owned. My mom has been living in London since 2019, we just wanted to be able to join her. ”
Accountant Maria Panteluk, also 41, arrived on Friday after a grueling 48-hour car ride from Lviv.
She wanted to join friends in London, who had agreed to drive her and her son Mikhail, 16, who were en route to Lille in a private car.
Unlike other European countries, the UK has yet to open a plan to allow Ukrainians with no family ties to come here.
Maria said: “I have no relatives but I have friends. I will study, I will work, I will pay taxes”.
A Government spokesman said: “We have expanded our visa application capacity to 13,000 people a week, deploying additional staff across the EU, with a 24/7 helpline to ensure those who need appointment can get.
“This allows us to balance security risks while welcoming those in need.
“A new funding route, allowing Ukrainians who have no family ties to the UK to sponsor to come here, is also underway.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/outrage-pop-up-visa-centre-26452754 Outrage as visa center pops up for desperate Ukrainian refugees 'closed for the weekend' - World News