Sussex aid worker Sally Becker 'relieved' as Ukrainian refugees arrive in UK

  • Report by ITV Meridian's Malcolm Shaw

Sussex aid worker Sally Becker has spent three months trying to help bring a group of 40 Ukrainian refugees to safety in the UK.

On Monday she confirmed the women and children who she's described as 'die-hards' have finally made it, after a three-month journey.

They were brought out of the war zone at the Polish border and are now staying in hotels and homes across England and Wales.

Becker, an aid worker from Brighton who is best known for her humanitarian work in the 1990s has helped a total of 164 women and children flee. She's described the project as 'really, really hard.'

Sally helped bring 39 women and children across on Friday evening (19 August) and is expecting another 24 over the next two weeks.

She previously helped to evacuate 54 orphaned children and their guardians from Dnipro in Ukraine during March this year.

"We were waiting three months for the visas and it was really really hard for these women and children and they were stuck, most of them, in a vast refugee centre with 2000-3000 beds," she said.

“They had no privacy - it was very very difficult. Some of them decided that they would remain in Poland and so they were found accommodation by the Polish authorities, and a couple of the families went back to Ukraine- they just couldn't cope with the idea of living in the camp indefinitely. 

“So the people who actually came with me are the die-hards, the ones who really were desperate enough to remain where they were all this time.

"They had nowhere to go back to, most of their homes have been destroyed and they also wanted their children to go to school. They want them to learn English, they've been teaching them, even before we left."

Sally is a veteran of humanitarian aid having been involved in aid projects in countries such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel and Lebanon.

"You know I have been to places that were worse," Sally added.

"I have seen things that were worse.but from the beginning of all the cruise missiles hitting the railway bridge, being on a train for 25 hours with these women and children.

"Most of the time we were in the pitch dark because they had to close the blackout blinds all the way along the the three railway carriages that had been assigned to us because of Russians targeting the train.

Back in June Ms Becker criticised the government's 'red tape', accusing the Home Office of failing some of the refugees she rescued from war zones in Ukraine, and believes the amount of paperwork involved trying to obtain visas for Ukrainian refugees is 'challenging.'

"I am very relived it is over, Sally said."

"That was hard, but the three months following that was much much harder, seeing those women and kids suffering in the camp and not knowing what was happening and if they had a future."

"We had to give them money to buy fruit and vegetables because they were getting sick.

"It was such a relief when those visas finally came through."