Government doesn’t know what to do with fleeing Ukrainian minors, says lawyer

The Government has paused visa purposes for unaccompanied minors fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a result of it nonetheless has not determined learn how to cope with such purposes, an immigration lawyer has stated.

Current Government recommendation for the Homes For Ukraine scheme states that under-18s “must be applying as part of a family unit which includes their parent or legal guardian” to be eligible.

But this steering didn’t seem on the web site till the center of April, some weeks after the scheme went stay on March 18, resulting in confusion and accusations of a “national scandal” that the Home Office had moved the goalposts.

Mala Savjani, an immigration solicitor for the charity Here For Good based mostly at Wilson Solicitors LLP, informed the PA information company: “We’ve been seeing applications from unaccompanied minors being paused and not decided, especially ones that were submitted in the second half of March and we would have absolutely expected decisions on those applications by now.

“It seems as though the Home Office is purposefully not making those decisions because they haven’t actually decided how to deal with those applications.”

(Mala Savjani)

PA has spoken to a number of UK residents whose makes an attempt to supply properties to unaccompanied minors have stalled, as these affected have described the Government’s method as “beyond cruel”.

Julie Elliot, 62, hopes to welcome 16-year-old refugee Timothy Tymoshenko, who’s severely autistic and non-verbal.

Ms Elliot and her husband Roger, 66, have 14 youngsters collectively – 4 organic and 10 adopted.

Their adopted youngsters all have disabilities and eight of them nonetheless stay on the couple’s house within the Ribble Valley, Lancashire.

The pair labored as nurses earlier than turning into full-time carers to their adopted household, being made MBEs in 2016 for companies to youngsters.

Ms Elliot has now been made Timothy’s authorized guardian by his mom, Anna, and is contemplating travelling to Ukraine to look after Timothy as she has been given no replace on his visa software made on March 30.

“Why offer with one hand and take it away with the other? It’s beyond cruel,” Ms Elliot stated of the federal government’s coverage.

Timothy Tymoshenko is severly autistic and non-verbal (Julie Elliot/PA)

“It would have been kinder not to offer and then all of these people could have found refuge in other places.”

Ms Elliot defined that Timothy’s mom is “getting to the end of being able to cope now”.

“One of two things is going to happen to Tim, either Anna’s going to crack and he’s going to have to go to one of these institutions, which there aren’t any left now because of the war,” she stated.

“Or he is going to be dead under a pile of stones and I can’t let that happen to him, I can’t.”

Dr Catherine Hillman, a guide obstetrician at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, is trying to carry two youngsters, whose moms can not depart Kyiv as a result of they’re medical professionals, to the UK.

She helped to safe bursary locations for the kids, 14-year-old Ivan and 15-year-old Daria, at Cheltenham College, whereas her mother and father have signed as much as act as guardians for the pair.

But regardless of having all of the paperwork accomplished, together with written consent from the kids’s mother and father, and submitting the visa request on April 12 – the date the steering on was up to date, evidenced by older variations of the net web page on the Wayback Machine web archive – they’re nonetheless ready to listen to again.

“We applied for their visas what feels like 300 years ago and still have not received anything,” Dr Hillman, 45, informed PA.

“We’ve just had the most appalling difficulty. I mean, it’s been smoke and mirrors, we’ve no idea what the truth of the matter is.”

Dr Hillman, who lives in north Gloucestershire, stated she has written to “everyone I can think of including Lord Harrington”, however to no avail.

A Government spokesperson cited “safeguarding concerns” as the rationale unaccompanied minors are usually not being permitted for the scheme.

But Ms Savjani stated: “You’ve got unaccompanied children who are alone, stuck in different cities and towns across Europe, who are not with their parents, and in some cases have been separated from their friends.

“They have very limited funds available to them.

“But they’ve been offered a safe home to live in, in the UK, which has been checked by the local authorities, and the sponsor has had a DBS check completed.

“It’s a bit of a contradiction to say it’s a safeguarding issue, isn’t it?”

Here For Good, which was set as much as present free immigration recommendation to susceptible EU residents within the UK post-Brexit, has been serving to with purposes from Ukrainian residents because the invasion started.

(Catherine Hillman)

Ms Savjani stated the Ukraine system is functioning equally to different instances she has labored on in that it’s “a system that works for some and not for others, with limited transparency”.

Dr Hillman stated the Government has a “moral imperative to address this issue” and believes it’s a “national scandal” that it has not completed so.

She stated: “They’re just placing roadblocks all the way along with an inconsistency of message as to how you should approach this problem, what you should do.

“And without any clarity you are left floundering, having promised people that you would be able to help them when they are in the very worst of circumstances.

“And personally, if that was my child, I would be appalled to be on the receiving end of such a ‘welcome’.”

A Government spokesperson stated: “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 in the UK.”

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