France Accuses Britain Of 'Lack Of Humanity' After Turning Away 150 Ukrainian Refugees
A French minister has accused the UK of displaying a 'lack of humanity' after it was reported that around 150 Ukrainian refugees had been turned away from travelling to the UK from Calais.
The refugees, who had fled their home country over the last week following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are attempting to join family members already in the UK, but were told they would not be allowed to enter until they'd obtained visas.
It's reported that the process would require Ukrainians already in Calais to travel to either Paris or Brussels to visit a UK consulate, leading French interior minister Gerald Darmanin to blast the British government's 'completely unsuitable' approach to people 'in distress.'
In a strongly worded letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, Darmanin wrote: 'It is imperative that your consular representation, exceptionally and for the duration of this crisis, is able to issue visas for family reunification on the spot in Calais.'
Reuters reports that Darmanin also referred to the growing number of cases of refugees who have died in the English Channel while attempting to cross between France and the UK, writing: 'Our coasts have been the scene of too many human tragedies. Let’s not add to that those Ukrainian families.'
The UK has said it is poised to accept as many as 200,000 refugees from Ukraine, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week saying the country would be 'very generous' towards those seeking safety. But unlike other countries in Europe, the UK has refused to waive the need for Ukrainians to obtain a visa.
The Home Office's position stands in stark contrast to that of the EU, which last week confirmed it would allow any Ukrainian to stay for three years without the need for a visa, and has seen scenes in recent days of local residents waiting at train stations to offer spare rooms to arriving families.
Patel has claimed that waiving visas for Ukrainians was not being considered on 'security' grounds, citing concerns that doing so would make it easier for extremists and Russian agents to enter the UK, per The Guardian.
A pop-up visa office is expected to be established in Calais in the coming weeks to help process Ukrainians seeking to join their families under the UK's scheme.
It's estimated that over one million Ukrainians have already fled the country since the start of the invasion 11 days earlier, with the UN warning that as many as five million may be displaced by the war.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
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