Government faces growing criticism over visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees

Credit: AP/ITV News

As the deadly invasion of Ukraine continues the heartbreaking humanitarian crisis worsens and will continue to do so as long as Russian troops are in the country.

Already more than 368,000 people have fled into neighbouring countries, with many more expected in the coming days.The UK government boasts being quick to send in weapons and other military equipment into Ukraine, as well as saying it led calls of Western nations to ban Russia from the SWIFT banking system.

However, it is facing growing criticism for not acting quickly enough to help Ukrainian refugees.

Government ministers say they’re sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine’s neighbours to help deal with the rising numbers of refugees.For refugees to gain entry to the UK, however, certain criteria must be met as part of the immigration system here.

Any Ukrainian in the UK right now has been allowed a visa extension, but Labour and other opposition parties want the government to go further.

Anyone who leaves Ukraine wanting to come to the UK has to apply for a visa.

But opposition parties and some Tory backbenchers are calling for visa criteria to be removed for those fleeing Ukraine and safe passage to the UK to be arranged.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy has been critical of the criteria needed for refugees to enter the UK

I’m told that the UK government is looking at a wider humanitarian package but, as yet, it’s not clear exactly what will be included, although some movement on visa regulations is likely.

On Saturday night the Prime Minister said the UK will “of course” take refugees and it has a proud tradition of doing so.

Foreign Secretary has gone on to say the government is doing "all it can to help" refugees.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says there will "always be a home in Britain for refugees"

Last night the Home Office minister responsible for legal migration, Kevin Foster, deleted a tweet suggesting that under current immigration rules desperate Ukrainians could apply for a visa to come here and pick fruit.Many politicians can only watch helplessly as Ukraine is attacked, while the pressure on the government will grow to do more to help those displaced by the conflict. 

The government is warning that the West could face threats from Putin for the next decade, so how it reacts to the refugee crisis in Ukraine will set the tone for how the UK will deal with any future refugee crises on the continent.

How can I read more about what's going on and the background to the conflict?

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