Ukranian children facing agonising wait to flee to Yorkshire after parents cleared to travel

  • Video report by Katie Oscroft

A couple from West Yorkshire say they are worried for the safety of a Ukranian family who are facing visa hold-ups in their bid to get to the UK.

Huw and Terry Evans, from Holmfirth, sponsored Sergii, Valentina and their two children Demi and Max through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The family, from south-west Ukraine, have applied for visas. But, while Sergii and Valentina have had theirs approved, the children have not yet been cleared to travel abroad.

Mrs Evans said she never anticipated anything like this.

"The idea that two children can't just come with their parents seems extraordinary to me. They were having to take a child through a war zone just to get a photo put on his passport. It's distressing for us so imagine what it must be like for them," she said.

The family have sent messages from their home in Ukraine to their prospective hosts in Yorkshire about their living conditions while they wait.

"They told me one night they were sitting in the basement closest to the strongest wall," Mrs Evans said.

"There had been three air raids that night and they were reading Peppa Peg to Max to keep him calm."

It comes amid reports that the Home Secretary Priti Patel could face legal action over delays in the visa system for Ukrainians fleeing the war.

The process has been criticised, with claims of families being unable to travel to the UK because not all of them have received their permission to travel letters or visas.

Lawyers are now preparing a class action on behalf of hundreds of Ukrainians who applied to travel to the UK weeks ago but whose cases have been stuck in a backlog, The Guardian has reported.

The Holme Valley Homes for Ukraine group said it has so far seen only 12 Ukranian nationals make it to the area after 100 applications for visas.

The UK government has faced criticism over delays in the visa system. Credit: PA

Rebecca Gough from the group said that some host families were giving up on the scheme because they had become frustrated with the delay.

"We've had sponsors decide they no longer want to sponsor, we've got houses that are prepared and ready and half the family can come and the other half can't, but clearly no mother would leave her child," she said.

The Home Office said in a statement: "In response to Putin's barbaric invasion, we launched one of the fastest and biggest visa schemes in UK history. Over 86,000 visas have been issued so Ukrainians can live and work in the UK.

"The changes the Home Office has made to streamline the visa system, including simplifying the forms and boosting staff numbers, are working and we are now processing visas as quickly as they come in – enabling thousands more Ukrainians to come through our uncapped routes."

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