Natalia worries about her parents in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.

The war hasn't arrived there yet, but the mother of four, who supplements her husband Wassily's London carpenter salary with cleaning jobs, would like to help them escape.

But how?

"Can you come to London with us at all?" she asks in broken English.

"And how?"

Jochen Buchsteiner

Political correspondent in London.

  • Follow I follow

Most Ukrainians in the kingdom are asking similar questions.

Unlike the countries in the EU, Great Britain has not opened its borders.

In the French border town of Calais, hundreds of Ukrainians have been refused entry by British border officials in recent days.

The images of rejected refugees have unsettled some Ukrainians and outraged many Britons.

The government is "abandoning the refugees," lamented the Labor Party, and even Defense Secretary Ben Wallace expressed embarrassment on Tuesday.

The process is "not going fast enough," he said, pointing to the interior minister.

No refugee enters the country without a security check

Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson continue to speak of "generosity" and "two paths to the kingdom".

But the details are petty and ask a lot of the refugees or force them to wait.

The first way is admission via a “humanitarian refugee quota”.

So far, however, it is unclear how the process is to be organized.

Patel refers to ongoing negotiations with European host countries.

The quota refugees selected would also need to have a “sponsor” in the UK.

After protests, the regulation was briefly questioned, but then reaffirmed.

According to the government, the basis must remain that no refugee enters the country without a security check.

The second refugee route is via family reunification.

Until the beginning of the war, only the closest family members were entitled to a visa.

In the past week, the process was accelerated and the circle of those entitled was expanded, including grandparents and siblings.

More than 200,000 Ukrainians could benefit from this, Johnson said.

The National Bureau of Statistics estimates that there are 17,000 Ukrainians living in Britain and 32,000 people born in Ukraine.

However, the saving visas (for an initial period of three years) can only be obtained with difficulty and time.

Refugees in Calais who invoked the reunification regulation were told to go to the British visa center in Paris or Brussels, which would mean a long and expensive journey.

In Kyiv itself, the visa center is now closed.

Refugees can try their luck in other capitals;

only in Rzeszow, Poland, was a makeshift center set up.

Patel assured on Tuesday that there will now be another "on the way to Calais".

The application can be submitted online but also requires a personal visit to a visa center.

There, fingerprints are taken, a photo is taken and the passport is scanned.

The government promises to prioritize applications from Ukrainian war refugees, but initial reports published in the Guardian do not indicate a smooth process: Applicants struggled with technical problems uploading the necessary documents or were contacted by the visa office due to scheduling difficulties summoned to the British visa office in a neighboring country.

So far, only 300 refugees have reached the saving island - even the small, even more distant Ireland took in 1800.

"Rather than insisting on visas and sponsorships for traumatized Ukrainians, the UK should put in place fast track arrangements for refugees," Amnesty International said.

The deputy Ukrainian ambassador in London also demanded a new regulation – and also felt compelled to make the government accept refugees palatable: “Ukrainians are known to be industrious, hard-working people who will take care of themselves here.

They will not overstay their visas and end up returning home to rebuild their country."

Keywords: