France blasts UK’s ‘lack of humanity’ as Ukraine refugees in Calais turned away


French Interior minister Gerald Darmanin blasted Home Secretary Priti Patel in a furious letter – saying 150 Ukrainians have been told to apply for visas in Paris rather than close to the English Channel

Priti Patel on a visit to the Polish side of the Ukrainian border on Friday

A French minister has accused Britain of a ‘lack of humanity’ after Ukrainian refugees in Calais were turned away from getting into the UK.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin blasted Home Secretary Priti Patel over the UK’s arrangements for people fleeing Russia’s invasion.

The Sunday Mirror today told how families with ties to the UK are flooding into the French port after making 1,000-mile plus journeys from their war-torn country.

But the UK’s scheme is limited to people with certain family members in Britain – including parents, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren – and they must obtain visas.

Even for those eligible, France says they are unable to obtain visas in Calais itself.

Mr Darmanin said around 150 Ukrainians were turned away by UK border officials and told to travel back to Paris or Brussels to obtain visas.

In a letter to Ms Patel, leaked to the AFP news agency, he accused London of a “totally inadequate response” and “lack of humanity”.







Katerina, Glib, Victoria, Maiia and Valentina waiting in France for British help, as featured in the Sunday Mirror
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Image:

Charlie Varley/varleypix.com)

He called on Britain to set up a visa application center in Calais.

Currently there is one in Paris, 150 miles away – but he told French radio it was “a bit inhumane” to expect people to travel all the way there after their long journeys from Ukraine.

“The British must put their rhetoric into action, I’ve heard the big words of generosity from Mr (Boris) Johnson,” Mr Darmanin said. “I hope this will allow the English to open their arms a little and stop the technocratic nit-picking.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted: “Shocking – Ukrainian families turned away by UK at Calais & told to go back to Paris for a visa.

“Priti Patel needs to get a grip. Send an emergency Home Office team to Calais immediately to sort this out today & get desperate people swiftly through.”

She added: “Have Government Ministers lost all humanity & solidarity?”







Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin
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Image:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Mr Darmanin told Europe 1 radio: “I called my British counterpart twice.

“I asked her to set up a consulate in Calais that can process people’s paperwork and issue visas.”

It came as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees revealed more than 1.5million Ukrainians have fled over the border in just 10 days.

He said it was “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II”.

UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab did not deny the refugees had been turned away.

But he said: “Look, if we just open the door, not only will we not benefit the people that we need to, the genuine refugees, but I think we undermine the popular support for this very thing, so I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.

“We need to make sure that we’re acting for those that need our support.”







Civilians from Ukraine arrive at the crossing Ukrainian-Polish border in Medyka
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Image:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The full family visa scheme opened on Friday allowing applications from immediate family; extended family; and immediate family members of extended family.

Immediate family are a spouse or civil partner, unmarried partner in a cohabiting relationship for two or more years, a child under 18, a parent if their child in the UK is under 18, or a fiancee or proposed civil partner.

Extended family include grown-up children or their parents, grandparents, grandchildren or partners’ grandchildren, and brothers and sisters.

Home Office guidance recommends people apply for a visa “in a nearby country” to Ukraine after fleeing over the border – naming Hungary, Moldova, Poland and Romania.

People are asked to complete an application online, travel to the visa center to give details like fingerprints, then remain in the area until their application is processed.







A woman reacts as crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine
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Image:

REUTERS)

If they are accepted, fleeing Ukrainians with families in the UK will be able to live, work and claim benefits in Britain for three years – up from 12 months announced last week.

Application fees will be waived and unlike other migrants, Ukrainians will not need to pay the £624-a-year Immigration Health Surcharge to use the NHS.

But the scheme remains only for family members of people who are already British nationals or settled in the UK.

There will separately be a “humanitarian visa route” for firms, community groups or councils to sponsor Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK, for an initial 12 months. But it has not yet been launched.

The government claimed up to 200,000 could be eligible for the family visa scheme – but that is only if every single possible eligible Ukrainian came to Britain.

Ministers admit they do not know how many will apply.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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