Last minute hold up for Ukrainian orphans hoping to reach the UK

Words by ITV News Producer Cat Reid and video report by ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith in Poland

A group of orphaned children hoping to reach the UK have been left in limbo this evening after a last minute glitch delayed their journey. More than 50 children were meant to fly to London Heathrow on Monday after being evacuated from Ukraine earlier this month. But due to a paperwork glitch, their flight was cancelled at the last minute. ITV News was with the group as they made what they thought would be their final journey from a hotel in Znin to Warsaw, and then on to the UK.

Speaking to us on the coach, Sally Becker - who has 30 years’ experience evacuating children from war zones - said: “The moment we’re actually on the plane, l’ll be relieved. Until then, anything can happen. This has just gone too smoothly really." Dnipro Kids has helped rescue part of the group. Duncan MacRae, from the charity, said to us during a rest stop: “We think we’ve just about done it. I’m just nervous about everything until it’s done. “When we land in the UK that’s when I can start to relax." But as we got closer to Warsaw airport, it looked increasingly unlikely that the flight would be able to go ahead.

The flight did not go ahead as a document required from the Ukrainian authorities was missing, ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith reports

We pulled up at a hotel not far from the airport, and as the children ate their lunch and waited, the call they had all been dreading came in. Speaking to ITV News as she found out, Sally - from Save A Child UK - said: “We’re just waiting, hoping because… it’s been cancelled. They’ve cancelled the flight.” After the news had sunk in, she added: “I’m disappointed for them because the children thought they were flying today, but I’m sure we will cope as long as we can find a hotel that will accommodate everybody.” The team then scrambled to sort last minute accommodation for the children before breaking the news to them.

After finding out the flight had been cancelled, 17-year-old Vlad told us: “Why? I kept asking why, but now I understand and I accept it. I’m disappointed about the situation but I’m not stressed." The children - who are originally from five orphanages in Dnipro - have to wait for the paperwork to be ironed out before they can fly. A spokesperson for the mission, called Project Light, said: “The final paperwork required by the Polish Ministry of Families did not arrive in time for the flight to leave today. “All the parties involved in this mission are working hard to bring them to the UK in the coming days".

ITV News has contacted the Polish Ministry for Families but has not yet had a response. It is not yet confirmed when the children will arrive in the UK.

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