The British wife of a Ukraine-born woman said the UK visa system had “completely drained the humanity” of her relatives fleeing the conflict, and it also included a four-year-old who was asked: “Are you a terrorist? “
Mily Radford, from Sheffield, said her 14-year-old wife, whose name she declined to include, was born and raised in Kyiv but has held British citizenship since 2011.
She has been living in Poland with her cousin and her cousin’s children for more than three weeks while they await the outcome of their visa applications through the Ukraine family program.
Ms Radford, 39, stayed at home in Sheffield but helped the group through the application process, which says you are eligible for a UK visa if you join a UK resident family member.
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“It was very dehumanizing,” the official said.
“This is a visa program, but it is a visa program in response to a humanitarian crisis.
“Three weeks for the family visa – these are people with connections… there’s even a family member who picked them up.
“For me it’s crazy.”
The visas of the group, which includes four children aged 17, 12, eight and four, were approved on Wednesday after they submitted the applications in Warsaw more than three weeks ago.
“They treated what are mostly women and children first as threats and not as people helping,” Ms Radford said.
“That’s not to say it would be any different with men – maybe it would be, maybe not.
“But it’s women and children … I had to answer for a four-year-old, ‘Are you a terrorist? Have you ever been in the armed forces?’
“Why are you asking these questions? It should literally just be, “Are you a kid? who is your mom OK, we’ll take care of you when you’re here and we can then have questions with you if necessary.’”
They have been staying in various hostels across Poland since Ms Radford’s wife picked them up from East Kyiv on Friday 11 March.
“It was just a very long and confusing journey, the only concrete information we had came from volunteers,” Ms Radford said.
“I know they don’t have passports, but we’re talking about an adult and children… They don’t pose a security threat, they’re a four-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl.”
Ms Radford also explained the experience of the group awaiting the outcome of their visa applications.
“The last week has been the worst for them, being hurled from shelter to shelter without knowing how long they will stay there,” she said.
“Just something simple like the kids have nothing to do… It’s really hard when you stay in one room.
“They’re pretty sick of each other … I think the decision to do a visa program brings order to the chaos, but it took away the humanity from everyone.”
She also spoke about what her wife has made of the past three weeks.
“She said that the Polish people were wonderful, but as soon as she dealt with the British bureaucracy she felt awful, which for me as a Brit is really hard to hear.”
Ms Radford said it was “hard to imagine” imagining the reality of the war in Ukraine.
“I think it’s just so hard for us Brits to imagine,” she said.
“I’ve been to Kyiv a couple of times, it’s been a couple of years… I can’t say there’s a place where I’ve seen bombings.
“But you know, I know what they are, I know where they are… There’s a lot of anger about it happening.”
Ms Radford is hoping her Ukrainian relatives can fly to the UK on Friday, where they will join her and her wife in Sheffield.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than four million refugees have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian war.
Asked for an answer to Ms Radford’s allegations, a government spokesman said: “We are acting as quickly as possible to ensure those fleeing Ukraine find safety in the UK through the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine be able.
“We continue to expedite visa processing in both programs, with 25,500 visas issued in the last three weeks alone and thousands more expected to come via these uncapped routes.
“While we have streamlined the process, simplified our forms and increased the number of clerks, vital security checks are needed to protect our borders and the British people from hostile state actors from Russia who are denying the support we are right to give people , would cynically exploit flight from Ukraine.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/uk-visa-scheme-asks-if-four-year-old-ukrainian-is-a-terrorist-41509652.html UK visa system ‘asks if four-year-old Ukrainian is a terrorist’