The UK’s Ukraine refugee scheme has come under fire this week. All sides of parliament have criticized the government for only issuing 500 visas so far to those fleeing the Russian invasion.
According to the head of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, The number of refugees fleeing from Ukraine since the start of the war has now increased to over 2 million.
Unlike other European countries that are part of the EU, the UK is telling those seeking refuge from Ukraine that they need a valid visa upon arrival.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government in the UK has announced two new visa routes. However, at the moment, only of these schemes is available to refugees.
The EU recently agreed to grant temporary residency to refugees fleeing the conflict and has given them access to employment, social welfare, and housing for up to three years.
Alec Shelbrooke, a lawmaker from the ruling Conservative Party stated, “This is a disgrace. We don’t want to stand in this House and listen to plans and processes, we want dates, we want action and the Home Office must react far more quickly than it’s doing.”
In the emergency debate held on Tuesday, Immigration Minister Kevin foster was another one of those denouncing the current policies.
He told parliament that “The (family visa) scheme went live last Friday, and has already seen over 10,000 applications submitted, of which over 500 visas have been issued with more being issued as we speak.”
However, he also defended the government’s current stance on security checks. He said, “Sadly, we are already seeing people presenting at Calais with false documents claiming to be Ukrainian. With incidents like Salisbury still in our minds, the government will not take chances with the security of this country and our people.”
“It is essential we do not create a choke point at places like Calais where there are dangerous people smugglers present but also to ensure the smooth flow of people through the system from across Europe,”
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