- The UK government is being urged to allow Ukrainian refugees into the country.
- The UN suggested that over 50,000 Ukrainians had fled after Russia invaded on 24 February.
- MPs have said the UK government is “shameful” for not permitting visa applications from all Ukrainians.
MPs and charities are urging Boris Johnson’s government to relax visa laws for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.
Currently, only Ukrainians with dependents in the UK can apply for a visa, and there is no refugee route for those fleeing Ukraine, The Independent reports.
MPs and NGOs are urging the government to change its stance.
The Home Office has received backlash with many government buildings flying the Ukraine flag in solidarity while not accepting visa applications from Ukrainians with British links.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has announced visa concessions for Ukrainians already working, vacationing, or studying in the UK, extending the period before they must leave the country.
But there has been no announcement of a resettlement scheme or other measures to address the humanitarian crisis of an expected mass exodus of refugees.
“Don’t wave the flag, waive the visas,” people responded on Twitter.
Labor MP Nadia Whittome told Insider “the government claims to #StandWithUkraine but the truth is that they are making it incredibly difficult for Ukrainian refugees to come to the UK legally.
“The government must waive all visa requirements for Ukrainians and work with international partners to resettle people who manage to cross a border into a third country. People’s lives are at risk, red tape should not prevent them from reaching the UK where they may want to be reunited with family and friends.”
Another Labor MP, Bell Riberio-Addy, tweeted her disdain at the government’s decision, saying it is “shameful how those who were so loud in talking up the prospect of war go silent when it comes to helping the people actually affected by it.”
—Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP (@BellRibeiroAddy) February 25, 2022
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran told Yahoo News that it is “disgraceful” that the UK government is “shutting the door to Ukrainian refugees.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that over 50,000 Ukrainians have fled their country in the first 48 hours of the Russian invasion, most of whom have left for neighboring Poland and Moldova.
—Filippo Grandi (@FilippoGrandi) February 25, 2022
Ukrainians do not require a visa to other EU countries and those in the Schengen Zone, where free movement is permitted.
“It’s up to the British government to explain why it can’t follow the example of EU countries,” Stuart McDonald MP told the Financial Times.
According to the latest polling, Johnson’s government is out of step with public opinion in its reluctance to offer sanctuary to the war refugees. A poll published on Saturday by YouGov said 63% support “introducing a scheme to resettle some Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.”
—Britain Elects (@BritainElects) February 26, 2022
A group of over 50 charities and NGOs wrote a letter asking the British government to take “a leading role in international efforts” and “uphold its proud record of those helping fleeing war and oppression” by allowing Ukrainian refugees into the UK.
The signatories of the letter included leaders of charities such as the Refugee Council, Save the Children, and Amnesty International.
The charities also spoke against the Nationalities and Borders Bill, which would make it harder for refugees to seek asylum in the UK, as well as criminalizing those that facilitate undocumented passage to the UK.
The Home Office did not respond immediately to Insider’s request comment.