Ukraine: Llanbrynmair resident to discuss ‘disgraceful’ wait for refugee visas

By Alexandra Bánfi   |   Reporter   |
Friday 22nd April 2022 6:58 am
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Sara Wheeler, right, volunteered for a week in Poland at the border with Ukraine
Sara Wheeler, right, volunteered for a week in Poland at the border with Ukraine (Unknown )

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A Llanbrynmair resident, who volunteered on the Ukraine border, is meeting with a Mid Wales MP to discuss the “disgraceful” long visa wait for those fleeing the conflict.

Sara Wheeler travelled to Poland, with Vicky Rowe, to volunteer at the border with Ukraine for a week, from 30 March to 8 April.

While Wales recently became a ‘super sponsor’, meaning refugees no longer need a UK sponsor to be able to come to Wales, Sara thinks the three-week waiting period for a visa is unacceptable and is leaving people in “limbo”.

Sara said: “People are left in limbo, waiting endlessly for their visas to be processed with little or no support, and what support they do receive is from volunteers who just don’t have the resources.

“It is shocking.”

Sara contacted Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams about her concerns that the UK is “not pulling our weight”, who then responded to set up a meeting to discuss the issue further.

As reported by the Cambrian News last week, while volunteering in an aid centre in Przemysl, Sara worked on the UK desk – where refugees would register their interest to come to the UK, be matched with a sponsor, prior to having to wait the few weeks for their visa.

But volunteers working on the desk do not have access to the UK Government list of sponsors and were unaware, at the time, of Wales’ position as a super sponsor.

In her email to Mr Williams, Sara said she thinks “we can do better”.

“[Three] weeks wait is disgraceful and is discouraging people from claiming refuge in our country. The British public clearly what to give refuge to these people- so why is the government making it so hard?

“No matches are made by the government - this website is merely a visa processing tool as I understand. The actual ‘matching’ of refugees to sponsors is happening at the borders by volunteers. “Do you think this is good enough? I do not. It is requiring voluntary organisations to duplicate work and the process is unregulated and potentially unsafe.”

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