Eastbourne mother criticises ‘ludicrous’ visa system as she hopes to house Ukrainian refugees

An Eastbourne mother said there is not enough urgency with the system to bring Ukrainian refugees to the UK.

An Eastbourne mother said there is not enough urgency with the system to bring Ukrainian refugees to the UK.

Nicola Evans, who lives in Avard Crescent, has arranged to sponsor and house a Ukrainian woman and her two-year-old son.

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The mother explained that she was originally told Irina Nahorna and her son Yaroslav could get a visa from the application centre in Warsaw, Poland in 48 hours.

Nicola Evans with her son Baxter SUS-220421-113745001

Miss Evans said she was later told the pair could have to wait up to eight weeks for their visas.

According to Miss Evans, Mrs Nahorna’s visa has been approved, although they are still waiting on Yaroslav’s.

The Old Town resident said the applications were submitted on March 20 – more than four weeks ago.

Miss Evans said, “It is absolutely ludicrous. What is she going to do for eight weeks? She is going to run out of money.

Irina Nahorna and her son Yaroslav SUS-220421-113735001

“I cannot believe that this is the system. It is bonkers.”

The Eastbourne mother said the system is a ‘farce’.

She added, “It feels like a gesture, but not a genuine gesture, to bring them [Ukrainian refugees] here.”

Miss Evans questioned the ‘very flawed’ system and asked why other refugees from other countries are not being helped in the same way.

The basement where Irina Nahorna and her son Yaroslav were hiding SUS-220421-102856001

She added, “I just do not think that there is enough urgency around it.”

Miss Evans said she believes it’s easier to find someone to house on independent Facebook groups compared to through the official government scheme.

When speaking about the visa applications, the Eastbourne mother said there were also odd questions on the forms – including asking if two-year-old Yaroslav was a spy.

As well as more clarity, Miss Evans has called for visas to be processed quicker.

She said, “Unfortunately I know this sounds bad, but they work office hours.

“I know people need to spend time with their families, but we are in the middle of a war.”

Miss Evans also spoke about the severity of the situation in Ukraine.

The mother said in one of her Facebook groups someone spoke about how a bus from Lviv, Ukraine to the visa application centre in Warsaw was hijacked as women on board were raped in front of their children.

Miss Evans said she has also set up an ‘Eastbourne Ukraine Hosts’ group on Facebook to support those looking to help refugees and to create a community for those who come to the town.

Miss Evans said she wanted to thank Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell’s office for its help.

Eastbourne Borough Council’s Josh Babarinde OBE also called on the Government to ‘get a grip’.

The councillor said, “We are now weeks into this horrific war and the visa system for Ukrainian refugees is still painfully slow.

“This is despite so many generous families across our town standing ready to give them a home.

“It’s a total disgrace and an insult to all those fleeing war.

“The Government needs to get a grip, cut the red tape, and take its humanitarian responsibilities seriously.”

Eastbourne MP Mrs Ansell said, “I am delighted the visas have now been issued.

“It has been a number of weeks in the endeavour and I spoke directly with the Home Office Minister on this very case as recently as Tuesday (April 19).

“The wait has been frustrating and I know that my constituent has worked really hard to do all she can to make this happen. I have done the same.”

Mrs Ansell thanked Miss Evans for offering to take in the mother and son.

She added, “In a wider context, my experience is that the visa application system is speeding up.

“There was a delay in this case but we have dealt with other cases where visas have been issued within 48 hours.

“This is not a simple process for a variety of very good security reasons, not least, I am dismayed to have to say, to protect children from being trafficked.”