Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, and with British Home Secretary Priti Patel outside the Ukrainian Embassy in London, March 6, 2022. YUI MOK / AP The United Kingdom is the only European country to still require visas from Ukrainians fleeing war and seeking refuge in the country. And these visas are granted in dribs and drabs: the Home Office admitted, on Sunday March 6, that it had issued only 50 to Ukrainians trying to join their families in the United Kingdom, while at least 15,000 applications are in process. Classes ; on Monday, the number of visas granted had jumped to 300. Britain’s Ukrainian community is estimated at around 100,000.
The comparison with the openness of other European countries to refugees is striking. Poland has already taken in more than a million Ukrainians; Hungary, Moldavia, Romania and Germany also open their arms to them. As for the European Union, it has granted them “temporary protection”, a right of residence for at least one year, along with substantial rights: they will be able to work, access housing, the education system and medical care. This lack of British generosity in the midst of a humanitarian crisis – the largest displacement of populations since the end of the Second World War according to the United Nations – is increasingly shocking the British, the political opposition to the government of Boris Johnson, and even members of his conservative party. “The United Kingdom is not doing enough for Ukrainian refugees,” Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Monday at the microphone of LBC. French Interior Minister Gérard Darmanin denounced on Sunday “the lack of humanity” of the British authorities, when at least 150 Ukrainians were stranded in Calais this weekend, prevented from crossing the Channel because they did not have visa. To obtain it, London continues to require that they present themselves – physically – to the British consulate in Paris or Brussels (after making an appointment online). Thursday, March 3, Mr. Darmanin had however announced on France Inter that his British colleague, Priti Patel, was going to “install a kind of consulate” in Calais. Thursday evening, contacted by Le Monde, the Home Office denied, insisting that “there is no center to apply for a visa in Calais. People should not come to Calais [pour cela] “.
A hotline set up
On Sunday Ms Patel deemed Mr Darmanin’s accusations ‘false’ and on Monday a Downing Street spokesman insisted: ‘A hotline has been set up for people in need of help [le +44 808 164 8810, les appels sont gratuits], we have reinforced the teams in our consulates in the countries adjacent to Ukraine and have opened two routes to come to the United Kingdom. A few hours later, adding to the confusion, Mrs Patel first affirmed in the House of Commons: “We have an office near Calais, but not on the port” before admitting that this office “is not still operational. You have 59.3% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.
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