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Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom has poured scorn on the Home Office, claiming its “bureaucratic procedures” are blocking refugees from finding sanctuary.
Vadym Prystaiko told the Home Affairs Select Committee today that the UK’s visa restrictions are creating “hassles” for Ukrainians escaping bloodshed. He called for the current barriers to be “dropped for some period of time”.
Estimating that “at least” 100,000 Ukrainian refugees could come to Britain, Prystaiko said his officials would help deal with the influx of arrivals if restrictions were lifted.
“If you can vote for some temporary releasing of us from these rules, to allow people to get here, we will take care of [them],” he said.
However, he did acknowledge that the vast majority wish to stay near the Ukrainian border. “The natural place for Ukrainians is close to where most of the Slavic tribes [are] if I may put this… like Poland and Slovakia where people do not have any language barrier… who understand the cultural, the religious… most Ukrainians will stay close to their homes to their roots”.
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His intervention comes as the government announced that just 760 visas have been granted out of more than 22,000 applications.
Prystaiko, who last week was given a standing ovation in the House of Commons, told MPs that serious problems with border procedures had existed long before the conflict began. In fact, Prystaiko revealed that his wife could not initially get a visa to join him when he was appointed in 2020, despite being his nation’s representative.
The hearing is unlikely to bolster confidence with Priti Patel, whose inability to handle the situation has become as plain as a pikestaff. As The Hound reported yesterday, the Home Secretary has had months to prepare for a humanitarian disaster like this, but has become more concerned about the Conservative Party’s polling figures.
With Patel already being forced to U-turn once over lengths of stay, will she listen to Prystaiko and open the door to the people of Ukraine?