Mother in Darlington speaks of anguish as teenage daughter remains stuck in Ukraine

A Ukrainian mother living in Darlington says she's afraid for the safety of her 18-year-old daughter who's stuck in the war-torn country.

Iren Kuruc was working in the North East and sending money back to her family when war broke out in Ukraine.

With the help of friends, she managed to get her 12-year-old son Oleg out of the country and to the UK a week ago.

But her 18-year-old daughter Sabina's passport expired in January so she's stuck there.

Iren said: "My biggest fear is that my daughter is quite a beautiful girl and I heard many times that Russian soldiers attacked women.

"That is why I am scared. This is my main fear in this situation."

She went on to say that getting a visa to the UK for Sabina is proving difficult because of language barriers and red tape.

Sabina was in a relatively quiet part of the country but she was forced to go to an air raid shelter for the first time on Saturday after the sirens sounded in her city.

Iren wants to get her out of the country before the situation gets any worse.

Iren managed to get her son Oleg to the UK with the help of friends but now her efforts have turned to trying to get her daughter to safety Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The charity Darlington Assistance for Refugees (DAR) is trying to help Iren and Sabina with the visa process.

Fran Wood, from DAR, said: "When you're desperate and fleeing a war zone you don't think about taking your bank statements, or a bill to prove you lived at that address. Who does that?

"There are huge obstacles with these visa applications and they are not easy to do."

She said one of the problems was they needed to be filled out in English, while the online application would not let them get any further once they said there was no passport.

Peter Gibson MP said his office had also been trying to help the family but said the government had a difficult balancing act.

The MP for Darlington said: "As we have stepped up and changed the systems over the past couple of weeks there's been an impatience by people that things weren't done earlier and we have to remember that government doesn't always work as quickly as we would like it to do, but we have seen the Home Secretary and her ministers working tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to make the system as easy and accessible as possible."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We have expanded our Visa Application Capacity to 13,000 a week, deployed additional staff across the EU, with a 24/7 helpline in place to ensure those who need appointments can get them to come here. This allows us to balance security risks while welcoming those in need."