The British government insisted on Sunday that it cannot “just open the door” for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, and denied French charges that “inhumane” British authorities would send refugees from Calais.
“If we just open the door, not only will we not benefit the people we need, the real refugees, but I think we would undermine popular support,” Justice Minister Dominic Raab said. BBC.
“We need to make sure we act for those who need our support.”
France accused Britain on Saturday of an inadequate response and lack of humanity in helping Ukrainian refugees who want to join family in the UK from the French Channel port of Calais.
The UK’s response is “completely inappropriate” and shows a “lack of humanity” towards refugees who are often “in need”, French Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said in a letter to British counterpart Priti Patel sent by AFP. seen.
Since February 28, 517 Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country have tried to join relatives in the UK via Calais, French authorities said, but 250 were told to leave and get visas from the UK. consulates in Paris or Brussels.
Darmanin told France’s Europe 1 radio on Sunday that he had twice called Interior Minister Patel and “asked her to set up a consulate in Calais that can process people’s papers and issue visas”.
ALSO READ: ‘We can’t go home’: First Ukrainian refugees arrive in Germany
He said it was “a bit inhumane” to expect them to travel to Paris or Brussels after their long journey from Ukraine.
“The British must put their rhetoric into action, I have heard the great words of generosity from Mr (Prime Minister Boris) Johnson,” Darmanin said.
“I hope this will enable the English to open their arms a little bit and stop the technocratic nit-picking.”
Patel insisted no one had been turned down.
“Let me correct what the French government has said. The British government is not returning anyone or returning at all,” she told reporters on Sunday.
“And I think it’s very important to emphasize that, especially at this time when all countries across Europe have to work together to help and support those in need who are fleeing Ukraine at this terrible, terrible time.”
The British government has also been criticized at home for not being open enough to Ukrainian refugees, but has now relaxed rules to allow Ukrainians already in the country to bring their relatives over.
The UK’s Home Office said on Sunday that “about 50” visas had been granted under the Ukraine Family Scheme. Approximately 5,500 online applications have been completed and approximately 2,400 people have made an appointment to submit their applications.
The Ministry of the Interior has not responded to AFP requests for information about the possibility of setting up consular services in northern France.