Delays in government Ukrainian refugee scheme 'putting lives at risk' charity warns

Delays in a UK Government scheme to home Ukrainian refugees is putting lives at risk, a charity has warned.

Mary Lafferty from the Omagh and Fermanagh Refugee Hub says they have been left in limbo as to what is happening with the UK Homes for Ukraine scheme.

She said the system is too slow and over complicated and host families have been left waiting while millions who had been forced to flee their homes are left stuck on the border.

"People here have opened their home and hearts but we are not getting any clarity from central government," she told UTV. "The longer the delays go on the more danger these people are in and the more traumatised they become."

Over 7,000 people in NI have expressed interest in sponsoring refugees.

Only 90 visas have been issued despite 600 host being matched with refugees in NI.

Adrian McBride, in the centre of this picture, has offered to house a refugee family

Adrian McBride has been to the border in Poland to help.

He says people are desperate.

He is waiting to host a Ukrainian mother and her six-year-old daughter he met while out there.

"Across Europe everybody has opened their doors wide and there’s just this contrast because here suddenly we are faced with solid red tape you can’t appear to get through," he said

"If we could just let them in and sort out the paperwork afterwards. Let's be kind. NI in particular are we not renowned for that?".

In a statement, the Home Office said: "We are moving as quickly as possible … We have streamlined the process so valid passport holders do not have to attend in-person appointments before arriving in the UK, simplified our forms and boosted caseworker numbers, while ensuring vital security checks are carried out. 

“We continue to speed up visa processing across both schemes, with almost 30,000 visas issued in the last three weeks alone and thousands more expected to come through these uncapped routes."