Anger as hundreds of refugee children from Ukraine are left stranded abroad following Home Office rule change
- More than 500 Ukrainian minors are believed to be stranded across Europe
- Britons hosting Ukrainian refugees say they are ‘ashamed’ by the situation
- The Home Office said it was going to address the problem, but has done nothing
Britons offering shelter to Ukrainian refugees say they are ‘ashamed’ by the Government’s continued failure to close a loophole that is keeping hundreds of children out of the UK.
More than 500 Ukrainian minors are believed to be stranded across Europe after a last-minute rule change by the Home Office meant those under 18 must be accompanied by a biological parent.
The intention was to combat people trafficking, but many had already left the warzone and been entrusted into the care of older siblings or other relatives.
The Home Office indicated a fortnight ago that it was going to address the problem, but has since done nothing.
Oleksandr Polishchuk, 24, and his 15-year-old sister Natallia are just one set of siblings caught up in the mess after a last minute Home Office rule change
Ukrainian refugees such as Oleksandr and Natallia are fleeing scenes of destruction such as these
Kevin Hennelly and Sandra Tilley, from Lincolnshire, had hoped to host Oleksandr Polishchuk, 24, and his 15-year-old sister Natallia, but the younger sibling cannot come to Britain despite her parents giving written permission.
‘The boy’s passport has now run out and he has travelled alone to a warzone in the east of Ukraine to try to meet his mother and get it renewed,’ said Mr Hennelly.
‘His father’s battalion has been surrounded by Russians in the east and they have not heard from him.’
Condemning the Home Office policy, he added: ‘It’s apparently safer to leave children in a war-torn country riddled with rapes, murders and human trafficking instead of coming to live with a UK family who’s had multiple DBS checks.’
The Ukrainian authorities also want children to be allowed into the UK if they have permission from their legal parents or guardians.
Laura Goedhuis, who is sponsoring Sasha Ivanenko, 15, and his aunt Nataliia, 40, said she was told last month by her local MP that the guardianship issues would be resolved within ‘a few days’.
She said: ‘We all feel incredibly let down by the Home Office and the Minister for Refugees, Lord Harrington. I feel I’ve been lied to again and again.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘Due to safeguarding concerns, unaccompanied minors are only eligible under the Homes for Ukraine scheme if they are reuniting with a parent or legal guardian.’
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