People queue up outside the Overseas Visitors Records Office in London, UK, 8 March 2022. The UK's Home Office is facing condemn for failing to help people fleeing war in Ukraine | Photo: EPA/ANDY RAIN
People queue up outside the Overseas Visitors Records Office in London, UK, 8 March 2022. The UK's Home Office is facing condemn for failing to help people fleeing war in Ukraine | Photo: EPA/ANDY RAIN

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has said that there are problems with Ukrainians trying to get to the UK. On arrival in Calais, they are unable to get onto trains because a visa is needed to enter and they must return to Paris to request it.

Tension has reappeared between London and Brussels, after the EU criticized the UK for mismanagement of the refugee crisis from Ukraine.

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson told the European Parliament on Wednesday, March 16, that there are problems with Ukrainians trying to get to the UK since, on arrival in Calais, they are unable to get onto trains because a visa is needed to enter and they must return to Paris to request it.

Only 5,500 refugees have so far been granted visas to enter UK

London has been criticised in recent days for not having made an exception for refugees fleeing Ukraine in terms of needing a visa to enter the country in contrast with what was ordered by the EU.

This decision has slowed down the flow of refugees into the country. Around three million people have already fled Ukraine. Only 5,500 have received a visa to enter the UK out of the about 20,000 that have requested one.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to back his plan for receiving refugees, after last week saying that the country was determined to be as generous as possible.

Johansson has however repeatedly, unsuccessfully asked UK Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Priti Patel to send officials to Calais to speed up the issuing of visas.

Trafficking and exploitation risks for women and children

Meanwhile, the EU --which is speeding up the implementation of a directive for temporary protection for the refugees, adopted thus far by 21 member states-- has once again warned of the risk of human trafficking and exploitation of women and children fleeing Ukraine.

Commissioner Johansson noted that many unaccompanied minors had entered the EU and that there have been reports of women and children who have disappeared without a trace.

For this reason, Brussels has in recent days activated a network of anti-trafficking coordinators among member states.However, the commissioner warned, there is the need to do more to alert security forces to take action. New concerns have been raised about potentially fake adoptions taking place of children recently orphaned. The fear is that some children may end up being forcibly adopted.

Despite arrivals having slowed in recent days, more refugees are expected, especially considering that 13 million people in Ukraine are affected by the war and of them about two million have already been displaced inside the country.

 

More articles