Security expert backs Patel over Ukraine refugees 'Don't forget other elements'

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Currently, Ukrainians can arrive in the UK if they have close family living there but some have said they have been turned away at Calais as they struggle to find a place to fill out visa applications. The Government has also announced plans for a new sponsorship scheme for Ukrainians without any family ties to the UK which sees them being matched with communities, private sponsors or local authorities to bring those forced to flee to the UK.

However, Britain’s response to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis has been widely criticised as EU member states have waived all visa requirements for Ukrainians and granted them automatic leave to remain for up to three years.

The Home Office has been accused of dragging its heels on processing Ukrainian refugees as only a few hundred visas have been supplied to them despite European countries welcoming nearly a million.

However, Priti Patel’s Ukrainian refugee policy has been backed by Chris Ryan, a security consultant and former Special Air Service sergeant.

The author and recipient of the Military Medal claims the Home Secretary’s approach allows the Government to consider other factors, including health risks.

Priti Patel Ukraine Refugee reponse

Security expert backs Patel over Ukraine refugees ‘Don’t forget other elements’ (Image: Getty)

Ukrainian refugees in Berlin

Volunteers wait for refugees from Ukraine at a train station in Berlin (Image: Getty)

On Twitter, he wrote: “The Home Sec will also be aware of the health risks in allowing a surge of people straight in with no screening etc.

“Not to forget ‘other elements’ using a crisis to slip through the net.”

On Tuesday, immigration minister Kevin Foster ruled out any relaxation of Britain’s restrictions, for reasons echoing those given by Mr Ryan.

Mr Foster told MPs that the procedures in place were needed to protect national security, amid suggestions that Russian agents could try to abuse the system, akin to the attempt by Russian agents to kill a former Russian spy in the town of Salisbury in 2017.

On Monday, Priti Patel admitted that she had not yet set up a visa application centre (VAC) near the French port of Calais, where refugees have gathered.

READ MORE: British national emotional at ‘lack of humanity’ towards refugees

Instead, Kevin Foster noted that a new visa application centre would be set up in Lille, northern France, within 24 hours.

This means Ukrainian refugees arriving in Calais in the hope of seeking sanctuary in the UK will be told to travel more than 70 miles to apply for visas.

This comes after the Home Secretary faced a barrage of criticism over the Government’s refusal to loosen restrictions on Ukrainian refugees.

Fedir Kurlak, chief executive of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, a community group, slammed the UK restrictions.

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He said: “There are criteria that have to be met and in real terms that’s not practical for what we’re seeing happening in Ukraine and at the borders, the people flooding out across the Ukrainian border.”

Ms Patel also faced a call to resign from her own party on Tuesday as unease grows among Tory MPs.

The backlash from MPs came after it was revealed that the UK has so far issued just 500 visas to Ukrainian nationals seeking sanctuary under the Government’s family reunification scheme.

This total came despite Boris Johnson insisting the UK would be as generous as possible to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

The Prime Minister was also among those who defended the need for border checks on refugees fleeing to Britain from Ukraine.

Ukrainian refugees

The UK has so far issued just 500 visas to Ukrainian nationals seeking sanctuary (Image: Getty)

His backing came after Kevin Foster told the Commons there were already people “presenting at Calais with false documents claiming to be Ukrainian” and the Government “will not take chances with the security of this country and our people”.

Mr Johnson said: “I think it is important that when you do have people coming to your country, maybe coming from a war zone where their previous history is unclear, what they have been up to, it is important to have checks.

“That is one thing we are able to do. I think having some sort of check, some sort of control is an important feature of the way we do things. I think it is valuable.

“It doesn’t mean we aren’t going to be massively, massively generous. But I think to have a system of simply uncontrolled immigration isn’t right.”



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