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Monday, March 14, 2022

Refugees caught up in red tape

The government may be offering UK households £360 a month as a thank you for housing a Ukrainian refugee, but the biggest obstacle to delivering that scheme remains UK ministers themselves.

I listened to Radio Wales this morning, and the Welsh Tory leader's reaction to the First Ministers ambition to welcome 1000 refugees, and was shocked at Andrew R.T, Davies' complete lack of awareness of the obstacles being put in place on the UK border to women and children fleeing a war zone, in getting here in the first place.

Mark Drakeford said he wants Wales to be a "nation of sanctuary" and plans were now in place to take the "first wave". Welsh Tories however, want Wales to accept 10,000 refugees. At the moment, the number of visas being issued to Ukrainians numbers in the hundreds. Will that 10,000 refugees be allowed to even enter the UK?

The Guardian reports that British families trying to help Ukrainian relatives get to safety in the UK have expressed frustration and fury at the continued bureaucratic and technical hurdles involved, despite government promises to cut the red tape involved in the family reunification scheme:

Applicants said they were struggling with a range of problems – such as online application forms that crash, difficulty in getting clear guidance from helpline staff, some advice hotlines charging premium rates of 69p a minute, delays in visa processing times and extended, expensive stays in hotels in unfamiliar countries with no clarity about when visas will be granted.

Although the rules governing the Home Office-administered Ukraine family scheme are to change from Tuesday, removing the need for applicants to get fingerprinted before coming to the UK, about 22,000 people who have already submitted applications have been given no information about how to proceed.

Several families with elderly and vulnerable relatives told the Guardian that they were concerned about the protracted delays in processing UK visas.

Perhaps the Welsh Tory leader should be focussing on sorting out members of his own party, sitting in the UK Government, whose actions so far have failed to show the urgency and compassion needed to address this situation.
His party doing 'compassion'.A PR exercise to score brownie points whilst putting as many barriers as possible in the way.
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