Ukraine-Russia: Scotland charity says no visas granted for almost 500 Ukrainian refugees being helped

The UK's longest-running refugee hosting charity says none of the 483 Ukrainian refugees it is working with has yet been granted a community sponsor visa from the UK Government.

Glasgow-based refugee homelessness charity, Positive Action in Housing, said the Government was putting people's lives at risk by "forcing refugees to wait in war zones for visas".

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, which pioneered Room for Refugees, the oldest and longest established refugee hosting programme in the UK, said the forms to apply for refugee visas through the Homes for Ukraine scheme were “tortuous and confusing, with no guideline”.

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She said: “In the past week, we have been triaging 483 Ukrainian families, young people and unaccompanied minors asking for help to find a sponsor who will also shelter them. Many remain in war zones. The stories are beyond heart-breaking. We are being forced to assess and triage refugees out of war zones while risk checking hosts."

Refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine take a train from Przemysl to Szczecin in Poland. Picture: Getty Images

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Ms Qureshi added: “The UK Government is doubly endangering the lives of Ukrainians trying to flee the war by forcing desperate people – families, young people and unaccompanied minors – first by forcing refugees to wait in war zones for visas and secondly by leaving them to turn in desperation to strangers on social media for sponsors.”

She warned the scheme, which outside Scotland requires refugees to match with a UK-based host themselves, could put people at risk.

Ms Qureshi said: “Unaccompanied minors, young women, women with young children, have told us they met someone on social media who offered to be a sponsor under Homes for Ukraine. A Ukrainian mother said she was sending her teenage sons, one of whom is autistic, alone to make the journey to the UK from Ukraine.

"Another woman told us that she would leave Kharkiv now if the UK Government offered a visa, but she is waiting in her home terrified. Refugees are turning to wholly unsafe methods of getting here, meeting people in Facebook groups, on social media. And this Government is responsible for giving people false hope and putting them further in the way of danger.

The Scottish Government has become a “super sponsor”. The initiative means refugees can come to Scotland under the Scottish Government and be matched with a host once they arrive.

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