UK government slammed for Ukraine visa ‘farce’
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UK government slammed for Ukraine visa ‘farce’

A UK government watchdog and Christian church leaders on Wednesday slammed the interior ministry for its handling of visa applications for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion — with a Holocaust survivor said to be among those held up.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Rob Behrens said reports of “chaos and confusion” mirrored complaints previously received about the under-fire Home Office.

He called for “unnecessary delays and bureaucracy” to be removed, and for the process to be better resourced, made more efficient and transparent.

Leaders of Christian denominations in London issued a joint appeal after meeting at the capital’s Ukrainian Catholic cathedral, expressing concern at Europe’s “greatest humanitarian crisis” since World War II.

“How can mothers with young children, the elderly and the disabled, who have travelled a thousand miles, be expected to complete online application forms in a language foreign to them?” they said.

“Times of war require swift action and flexibility, the easing of normal procedures, and the removal of complex bureaucratic obstacles that can easily turn hope into despair and resignation.”

Ukraine’s ambassador to London, Vadym Prystaiko, earlier told a parliamentary committee there had always been “bureaucratic hassles” when applying for a UK visa.

While he got his on time before he took up his post, his wife did not, he told the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, meanwhile, said it was concerned about a 90-year-old Holocaust and 1930s famine survivor from Ukraine who was caught up in visa delays in Poland.

The Jewish News reported that the family of Kateryna Razumenko were desperately trying to get her to London with her 62-year-old disabled daughter, Larysa.

But after fleeing bombardment in Kharkiv, they were stuck in limbo in temporary accommodation in Poland, the newspaper said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and her department have been accused of forcing Ukrainian refugees to jump through hoops to secure visas to travel to the UK.

Hundreds have travelled to the Channel port of Calais in the hope of crossing to join family in Britain, only to have been turned away because of a lack of travel documents.

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