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Welsh peer criticises Visa scheme saying it adds to refugees’ trauma

A Welsh Baroness has criticised the UK’s Ukrainian visa scheme, stating it is “unwelcoming” and adding to refugees’ trauma. Crossbench peer Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff is offering space in her Cardiff home to a mother and two children, but has been waiting for three weeks for their visas to be cleared through the Homes for Ukraine scheme. She said her husband, Professor Andrew Finlay, spent eight hours filling out forms for their visa applications on March 18, the day the scheme launched.

“(The process was) just so confusing and complicated,” Baroness Finlay told the PA news agency. Baroness Finlay did not wish to identify the refugee family but said they were already known to her and her husband Professor Andrew Finlay before the Russian invasion. See the latest news from Ukraine as more than 250,000 people flee from the east.

The father of the family is a doctor in Ukraine, she said, who had worked with her husband and remains in Kyiv – they have also submitted an application for him in the event he also leaves Ukraine due to injury or other reasons. “He’s decided to stay to serve his country and he’s basically entrusted his wife and two children to us,” Baroness Finlay added.

“We’ve said we will do whatever is needed for however long to support them, and we know that it might be years.” Baroness Finlay said they had to process each of the four refugees’ applications individually, which has made her concerned they may not be approved together.

Despite repeated efforts in person at a visa information centre and over the phone, she said the only information she has received from in response has been four separate emails to say each applicant is “in the system” to be processed – which arrived on Thursday. “The silence is awful… nobody can help me find out what’s happened to these people’s applications,” she said. Read more here.

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