Gill Furniss MP Labour Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
The Rt. Hon. Priti Patel MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
2 Marsham Street
9 May 2022
Our Ref: 20220509/JC
RE: Our treatment of those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine
I am writing regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis which has arisen as a result of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. I believe the Government can and should do far more to help those fleeing the conflict, particularly women and children.
Our European neighbours have, by and large, welcomed refugees into their countries with open arms. Many nations have streamlined the system to remove bureaucratic hurdles to ensure that refugees can enter the country as soon as they can physically arrive. But instead of following suit, the UK’s process is covered in red tape, meaning that people are waiting weeks to be allowed to come here.
The numbers speak for themselves. According to the UN, Poland has taken in over 3 million refugees, Romania has taken over 800k, and Czechia has granted over 300k emergency visas. So far, the number of applications approved from the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme combined has failed to even reach 100k.
I appreciate that many refugees fleeing Ukraine will want to settle in a country close to their own so that they are able to return quickly once it is safe. However, this is no excuse for the lacklustre response from your department which is failing those who want to come here.
The UK public are ready to step in and help, but they are being held back by your department. It has been heartening to see so many people in the UK offering to open up their homes to refugees. They were justified in expecting that the process would be quick and smooth.
However, I have seen that this has not been the case. Sponsors in the UK and the refugees they are sponsoring are being left in the dark in regard to the status of their applications. I have had multiple cases where people have waited more than three weeks for their applications to be approved. Many are still in Ukraine and fear for their lives every additional day they are unable to come to the UK.
I urge you to think again about the hurdles currently preventing Ukrainian refugees from entering the UK. This is a huge test for ‘global Britain’, and so far it is a challenge that we are not meeting.
Gill Furniss MP
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough