Priti Patel promised more help for Ukraine refugees - Downing St says no 5 months ago

Priti Patel promised more help for Ukraine refugees - Downing St says no

The Home Secretary had promised a new humanitarian route

Contrary to initial reports there are no plans to create additional humanitarian visa routes for Ukrainians to come to the UK, Downing Street confirmed on Monday.

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Currently only those with a family member in the UK have been offered a legal route to Britain, but following a visit to the Polish-Ukrainian border, it was understood Home Secretary Priti Patel would open a new, humanitarian route.

Speaking to The Sun she said: “In response to the desperation I saw with my own eyes at the Polish border two days ago, I’m urgently escalating our response to the growing humanitarian crisis.

“I am now investigating the legal options to create a humanitarian route.

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“This means anyone without ties to the UK fleeing the conflict in Ukraine will have a right to come to this nation.”

These hopes were shot down Monday by the prime minister's deputy official spokesperson who said the government only had plans for a family visa, and a local sponsorship programme.

Asked whether the UK will be offering a third, humanitarian scheme, the spokesperson said: "Well, we will obviously continue to keep the latest situation under review, but we've set out the details of the two routes that we are putting in place to help those displaced Ukrainians who would like to come to the UK."

It's believed more than 1.7 million civilians have so far fled Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, but the European Union expects up to four million people may try to leave as tensions deepen.

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According to the UN, Poland has taken 1,027,603 refugees - having opened up the borders for visa-free sanctuary.

The UK is falling woefully behind its pledge to take in 100,000 refugees. Figures published by the Home Office on Sunday showed just 1% of the 5,535 applications submitted by refugees with family links in Britain had been processed.

Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive at Freedom from Torture, said: “Despite months of warnings, this cruel government has been caught woefully unprepared for the scale of this humanitarian crisis because they are trapped in an anti-refugee logic that is becoming more unpopular by the day.

"The fact that only 50 visas have been granted to Ukrainian refugees shows the dangers of insisting on visa-based schemes when the whole point of the Refugee Convention is to allow people to run to safety and claim asylum on arrival".

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Labour have called for an emergency protection visa to speed up help for those fleeing the Russian invasion.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Families fleeing conflict in Ukraine need urgent help right now to reach safety and get support.

"We’ve all heard the harrowing stories from those driven out by the Russian bombardment who are now desperate to reach friends or family here who can support them.

"The UK must not turn those Ukrainians away".

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