Ukrainian refugees stuck at the Polish border as UK visa process stalls

ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports on the frustration many Ukrainians stuck in Poland feel as they struggle to get their visas for the UK approved

Other countries “are laughing at us” according to British humanitarian workers on the border between Poland and Ukraine.

While other nations have been moving refugees to new homes for weeks, here at the reception centre in Przemysl not one of up to 70 people hoping to move to Britain have made it yet. “It's about three weeks we've not had one successful visa granted yet", says John Lawler from the Make a Difference Foundation.

"It just needs to happen now. And right now. We’re deflated and we just need the government to just step in and to really get this sorted out".

John Lawler has been helping refugees at Poland's border with Ukraine.

Viktoria and Tonya are supposed to be heading to Manchester. Having somewhere to go is a “miracle” they say but they’ve no idea when they’ll get there.

“There are no cities in [Ukraine] where we would feel safe.

"We were paired up with someone in England who is prepared to host us”, but no one can tell them when their visas will be ready other than: "It could be two weeks or three weeks”.

Viktoria and Tonya are stuck at the border with no idea when their visas will be ready.

The British visa process is clearly stalling, with refugees unclear on when they will begin the journey to Britain and thousands of families who’ve signed-up to the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme equally in the dark about when they will take them in.

Katherine Klinger has signed up to the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

She says “it’s shambolic” and thinks it’ll be weeks before she can take in refugees.

From her home in London she told ITV News: “I think it's very sad, because I think this scheme is not a bad scheme.

"I think the government is exploiting the generosity of the decent ordinary people of whom I understand 200,000 have opened their homes, in most cases to complete strangers”.

Katherine Klinger tells ITV News of the frustration she feels towards the government's system.

The UK government says: “The first visas were issued by the Home Office the weekend before last and we have seen Ukrainians starting to arrive under the scheme.

"The Home Office have made the process quicker and easier – the visa form is shorter and valid passport holders can apply online and complete biometric checks in the UK”. Here on the Polish border it feels anything but quick, and for many aid workers trying to get refugees to Britain it is simply described as “embarrassing”.

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