Almost two dozen refugees expected in Mansfield yet to arrive in UK
Almost two dozen Ukrainian refugees accepted to stay with hosts in Mansfield have not yet reached the UK, new figures show.
The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, also known as Homes for Ukraine, allows citizens to volunteer to house refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Sponsors offer accommodation for at least six months, with those receiving sponsorship allowed to live, work and study in the UK for up to three years.
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In Ashfield, 38 visas have been granted from 47 applications, but just 26 of these refugees had arrived.
The Refugee Council said it had received reports of delays at every stage of the process and of necessary documents not reaching refugees quick enough for them to travel.
Andy Hewett, from the charity, called the scheme ‘unfit for purpose’.
He said: “Responding to a serious humanitarian crisis by offering complex visa routes, putting paperwork and bureaucracy before people was always going to have tragic consequences.”
Some families are also not having their applications processed together, creating difficulties when not all visas are granted at the same time.
Others have flagged the potential for safeguarding issues from a lack of thorough checks on prospective sponsors, and there have been national reports of refugees becoming homeless after being turfed out by their hosts.
Refugees have also been arriving through the Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows Ukrainian nationals to join family members in the UK.
Across the UK, 107,400 visas had been issued to Ukrainian refugees through both schemes as of Tuesday, with 53,800 arriving in the UK by Monday.
The number of successful applications has increased compared with last month.
As of April 19, 71,800 applications had been granted through both schemes – including 26 in Mansfield and 24 in Ashfield – and 21,600 had arrived in the UK as of the day before.
The Home Office said some refugees are choosing to stay put or travel elsewhere, which may explain some of the gap between arrivals and the number of visas granted.
A spokesman called it ‘one of the fastest and biggest visa schemes in UK history’.