Welsh MP slams Priti Patel over UK’s Ukrainian refugee response
A Welsh MP has criticised Home Secretary Priti Patel for the time it is taking for Ukrainian refugees to be allowed into the UK.
Around 12,000 people had arrived in the UK under Ukraine visa schemes as of Tuesday, according to Home Office figures.
Some 10,800 people had arrived under the Ukraine family scheme but only 1,200 had made it to the UK as part of the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, provisional data published on the department’s website shows.
As of Thursday, about 79,800 applications had been submitted to the schemes and 40,900 visas had been granted.
Of these, 43,600 applications were for the sponsorship scheme, with 12,500 visas issued.
Out of 36,300 requests made for family visas, 28,500 had been approved.
In a TV interview earlier today, the minister apologised “with frustration” over the delays but denied visa requirements and checks are slowing the process.
Describing her response as a “non-apology” which helps no-one, Liz Saville Roberts the group leader of Plaid Cymru in the House of Commons, said it was the Home Secretary’s “burdensome visa requirements” which were responsible for the hold ups, adding: “The only response we need from her today is to scrap all visa requirements for refugees, in line with the refugee convention.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called on Ms Patel to resign over her “failure” to help those fleeing Ukraine with effective refugee schemes.
He claimed the Government was “squandering” the “amazing generosity” of Britons who had offered up their homes to Ukrainians with “needless bureaucracy and delays”, later adding on Twitter: “An apology isn’t enough. She must resign.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, described the figures as “scandalous and shameful”, claiming thousands of people are “stuck in limbo” as she called on Ms Patel to “account for this national disgrace”.
Ms Patel said it is “always easy to blame someone else” but security checks “are not the problem” when it comes to the time it is taking for Ukrainian refugees to reach the UK.
After being told by the BBC there is “huge frustration” among the public who are experiencing three-to-four-week delays and are blaming red tape for being unable to put people up, she replied: “They’re not seeing delays.
“We are processing and, as I’ve said as well, I’m streamlining processes.
“I streamlined the family scheme in less than a week, and we simplified that and we changed the way certain checks are done.
“Also, I’m working to automate where we can.”
Asked why Britain is playing “catch up” with other countries, Ms Patel said comparisons with EU members are not “like for like”.
“We want to give people the status and security of coming to our country along with the warm welcome… We have to ensure that they are protected and safeguarded in the United Kingdom as well”, she added.
A Government spokeswoman said: “In response to Putin’s barbaric invasion we have launched one of the fastest and biggest visa schemes in UK history.
“In just four weeks, over 40,000 visas have been issued so people can rebuild their lives in the UK.”
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