Ukraine-Russia: Scottish MP calls for Ukrainians who worked in British Embassy in Kyiv to be granted refuge in UK

A Scottish MP has called for “urgent answers” from the UK government following reports Ukrainians who worked in the UK embassy in Kyiv will not be able to seek refuge unless they meet strict visa requirements.

In a letter to Amanda Milling MP, a minister in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in charge of consular policy, MP Hannah Bardell challenged the minister to clarify reports the UK government has not waived visa restrictions for Ukrainian staff and their families who have worked in the UK Embassy in Ukraine and are now seeking safety in the UK.

She said staff who had worked for the British Government in Ukraine could be at risk if Russia occupies the area where they are living.

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In one example she highlighted in her letter, an individual who applied for a visa online from Warsaw found the application form required him to pay around £2,000 and show he had the means to pay for medical treatment in the UK.

Hannah Bardell has written to Amanda Milling, a minister in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in charge of consular policy

The MP also called for an update on the visa application status of those Ukrainian staff at the British Embassy who have already fled the country and pressed the minister to match the EU's decision to waive visa restrictions for all Ukrainian citizens.

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Livingston MP Ms Bardell said: "I have written to the UK government minister in charge of consular policy regarding concerns made by diplomats that dedicated British embassy staff in Kyiv are being told they will not get refuge in the UK as they seek to flee the war unless they fulfil strict entry qualifications.

"Embassy staff feel particularly vulnerable as targets for retribution if Russian forces occupy areas they are living in.

A young woman pushing a child in a buggy walks behind a Polish soldier as people wait for transportation after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, in Medyka, eastern Poland, on March 11, 2022. - Some 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded two weeks ago, and another two million have been internally displaced by the war, the United Nations said on March 11, 2022. (Photo by Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP) (Photo by LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images)

"It is understood some Ukrainian staff working tirelessly at the British Embassy have already fled the country. One person who applied for a visa online from Warsaw found the application form required him to pay around £2,000 and show he had the means to pay for medical treatment in the UK.”

She added: "This is shameful and simply cannot continue. The UK government must look to match the EU's decision to waive visa restrictions for all Ukrainian citizens.

"The UK government must reflect seriously on the duty of care and responsibilities for our local staff in Ukraine as at present it seems there is a complete abdication of responsibility."

In the letter, she said embassy staff feel “particularly vulnerable” as targets for retribution if Russian forces occupy areas they are living in.

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Ms Bardell, who worked for the US State Department at their consulate in Edinburgh before becoming a politician, added: “As someone who has worked as a local staffer in a foreign mission I can fully understand those concerns.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it had received the letter and would be responding to Ms Bardell “in due course”.

A spokeswoman said: "We are supporting our Ukrainian staff who have represented the UK in extremely challenging circumstances.

“All Ukrainian staff employed by British Embassy Kyiv and the British Council plus their dependants are eligible to come to the UK.”

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