Homes for Ukraine called ’embarrassing publicity stunt’ by refugees at Polish border
March 18, 2022, 10:13 PM
Britain’s Homes for Ukraine scheme has been branded an ’embarrassing publicity stunt’ after refugees were forced to spend hours filling in forms with information they ‘just don’t have’ after fleeing a country war-torn.
LBC’s Vicky Etchells spent the day at the humanitarian center in Poland where thousands of people are fleeing desperately across the border.
A volunteer Brit Flo, from Gloucester, who helped refugee Sergei fill in forms, described the new scheme as ‘bureaucratic, laborious and temperamental’ after criticizing the UK for its lack of a border presence.
Flo’s parents hope to sponsor Sergei, but despite being in close contact with the British sponsor, the Ukrainian refugee spent more than five hours filling out forms and had to pay to have documents translated into English.
Speaking to LBC, Flo said: “So we’ve been here for five hours. These people are traumatised, Segei is from Kyiv which is heavily bombed.
“And the last thing they need right now is like a very bureaucratic, laborious and capricious process like the one we have to go through right now.
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“How can I get close to someone when it’s literally my mum and dad that I can call anytime. I have all of their details. I know all of their details and I’m sitting with the person who is trying to communicate with my mum and dad in the UK not working filling in all this information as i asked how could you get a closer connection than that and it still takes us hours.
Explaining the process, Flo said the UK government wanted documents scanned and sent, including passports, bank statements and even mortgage statements, which the refugees might not have thought to bring. when they fled the Russian bombardments.
The process includes having to pay to have important Ukrainian documents translated into English after spending time scanning them on a specialized website.
Flo continued: “It’s just too much of a stretch to ask someone who’s had to flee their town, ‘oh actually, we want all your mortgage papers and all your paperwork and now we want it in English instead of in Ukrainian’.
“All the other countries here send hundreds of people every few hours on the buses. And we’re literally sitting here and it even takes a day to go half way with Sergei.”
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Speaking about his frustration with the program, Sergei told LBC he was worried about families filling out the form when the refugee center only has a 15-hour deadline.
“If you have, say, a wife, a husband, two children, you [would] spend a few days, I think, filling out all these forms, one by one,” he said.
Expressing her frustration with the government’s scheme, Flo continued: “It almost feels like some kind of publicity stunt that they said that.
“It is even stated on the gov.uk website that the UK is known as one of the most open and welcoming countries.
“And there’s literally no one here, unless they’re hiding in an office and haven’t been out for a week, we’ve been walking these hallways all week and there’s no presence British here.
“And it’s embarrassing right now because people are queuing up there and going to all the different countries and the UK is just sitting there just looking around, how are we supposed to How did it go?”
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While some refugees spend hours combing through paperwork to enter the UK, others are now returning to help fight for their country.
More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russian troops began their bombardment, but after seeing desperate scenes from their country, some citizens are making the dangerous decision to return home.
Today LBC spoke to Alyssa as she waited in line to board a train from Poland to Lviv.
Explaining why she was about to embark on the perilous journey, she said: “Two weeks ago I moved to Poland and thought I wasn’t needed here, but I’m still needed in Ukraine.
“I want to go back because I want to work, I want to help our soldiers, I want our children to sleep well without hearing the bombs again.”
She ended the interview with a desperate plea, asking the West to “please help us close the skies.”