MP raises concerns in Parliament after Ukrainian wife of South Shields resident turned away from UK visa office
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The UK's response to the refugee crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been criticised by refugee charities, with calls to waive visas entirely.
The Refugee Council has also said the Government must do more to help Ukrainians fleeing war.
Speaking in Parliament, Emma Lewell-Buck MP, said: “My constituent’s Ukrainian wife was turned away from the UK visa office in Warsaw (the Polish capital) and told that she had to book an appointment and make an application online.
"The UK immigration website repeatedly stated, ‘Sorry, there is currently a problem with the service. Please try again later’. She eventually was given an appointment, but not until 17 March. What is she supposed to do while the Home Secretary is getting her act together?.”
In response, the Home Secretary Priti Patel, said: “If the hon. Lady had listened to my statement earlier on, she would have heard what the process is.
"In fact, the application can be done digitally from Tuesday. If she would like to present me with the case, I would be very happy to look at it straight after —[Interruption.] Well, we do have the hub in Portcullis House, which has been working through cases.
"I do not know whether the hon. Lady has been using that service. If she has difficulty with that, she is very welcome to give me the case straight after the urgent question and I will make the calls myself directly.”
The Government has recently launched a refugee housing scheme, with more than 100,000 people in the UK signing up to help house those who have been forced to leave Ukraine, within the first 24 hours of the initiative.
Speaking in her Gazette column, Ms Lewell-Buck said the ‘Humanitarian response is far cry from that of Government’.
Ms Lewell-Buck made national headlines in September 2021 when she revealed in Parliament how a man in South Shields with family stuck in Afghanistan overheard Government employees describe the resettlement programme launched after the Taliban took control of the country as "a scam" which "gives false hope to people".