UK offers sanctuary to sick Ukrainian children needing medical treatment

ITV News Midlands Reporter Ellie Pitt has the details of the children's arrival

The UK is providing cancer treatment for 21 seriously ill Ukrainian children fleeing the Russian invasion, it has been announced.

The children and their immediate family members arrived from Poland on Sunday evening and will be assessed before being sent to NHS hospitals to continue their care.

Announcing their arrival, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I am proud that the UK is offering lifesaving medical care to these Ukrainian children, who have been forced out of their home country by the Russian invasion while undergoing medical treatment."

The government had been criticised for its handling of the Ukrainian refugee crisis, with a scheme announced over the weekend (whereby Britons can host people in their homes) criticised for lacking information and being "unclear".

During a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday, Mr Johnson "said the UK would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence, working with partners including at Tuesday’s meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) in London", a No 10 spokesman said.

Representatives from Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway will attend the summit of the northern European security coalition.

Mr Johnson said Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “barbaric actions” were “testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity”.

People keen to offer refugees shelter in the UK can register their interest in sponsoring Ukrainians through the government’s new humanitarian scheme from Monday.

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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has said the process of matching Britons with people fleeing the conflict will take place from Friday. He told ITV News he expects the first refugees to use the new route will make their way to the UK by the end of the week.

Labour cautioned that “too many questions remain unanswered” about the new scheme.

Shadow levelling-up secretary Lisa Nandy said it was unclear what support would be offered to vulnerable children and older people, whether provision would made for unaccompanied children, and what help would go to local government, sponsoring organisations and housing providers.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "This programme falls short of enabling any Ukrainian, particularly the most vulnerable such as children who are alone, to seek safety in the UK and access the full support they urgently need."

"By establishing a visa route and naming scheme, it will inevitably be restricted to those who are known to people in the UK and be a quite complex, lengthy visa application process.

"A humanitarian crisis requires a speedy and compassionate response, not one that puts bureaucratic hurdles ahead of the immediate needs of people whose lives have been ripped apart."

A child looks through a window of a bus carrying Ukraine refugees fleeing the conflict in the border town of Przemysl, Poland. Credit: AP

Meanwhile, the UK will supply Ukraine with more than 500 portable generators to provide energy for essential services, including at hospitals and shelters.

Mr Johnson said they will help ease the power cuts currently crippling the country.

During his call with Mr Zelenskyy, the men also “condemned the murders of Brent Renaud and countless innocent Ukrainians, and the abduction of the mayors of Dniprorudne and Melitopol”, Downing Street said.

It was reported on Sunday that Mr Renaud, an acclaimed US filmmaker, was killed after Russian forces opened fire on his vehicle near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.