Thousands of Ukrainian refugees live in overcrowded homes in Britain

British charities have raised their voices warning that thousands of Ukrainians seeking asylum in the UK have been forced to live in cramped flats, with entire families sharing single rooms. Organizations working to help them point out that a number of refugees who came to Britain to join their relatives after leaving the war were affected, as hundreds of them were registered as homeless, due to the conditions bad living.

He comes amid criticism of the Interior Ministry’s Ukrainian family reunification scheme as “half-finished”, while a prominent member of the House of Commons went so far as to describe the situation as a “dysfunctional catastrophe”. The Independent’s “Welcome Refugees” campaign has called on the UK government to move faster to help Ukrainians fleeing their country.

Charities warn that most of those arriving via this route (family reunification) suffer from overcrowding because their relatives in the UK have no extra rooms and there is no prior control of their accommodation before the arrival of refugees.

On the other hand, a survey conducted by the Greater London Authority (the delegated body of regional government in the big capital known as City Hall) of 9 charities in London found that among 83 Ukrainian applicants in the family reunification scheme sought to received a visa. With support, more than half (58 percent) lived in inadequate places and about one in five people (17 percent) were at risk of immediate displacement.

Meanwhile, the government refuses to publish the national data it holds regarding the number of Ukrainians who have sought local councils as homeless.

Andrey Savitsky is a service provider at the Center for Labor Rights [جمعية خيرية تُعنى بدعم المهاجرين اجتماعياً وعلى مستوى العمل] He claimed that more than half of the Ukrainian refugees helped by his charity live in overcrowded flats and that there are thousands of those who have sponsors, often living in homes that are “difficult to fit in”.

He added that among these cases, a Ukrainian family of 5 members, one of whom is a child with disabilities, all living in a bedroom, rented it inside a house in Nottinghamshire, after wife and children arrived in early april to join the man who was He lives mostly in precarious conditions as a result of his work as a night transport driver.

“Family members called the local council and told them they needed housing,” Savitsky said. “When a council employee was taken to the apartment where they were staying to check on the situation, he found the conditions to stay unsuitable. But the dates given to them to offer them new housing were repeatedly postponed.

On the other hand, government data show that about 16 thousand people have arrived in Britain under the Ukrainian family reunification scheme, which allows refugees to reunite with their relatives who live mainly in the UK, while about 11,100 people have arrived with the scheme “House for Ukrainians”. , a special route that allows Ukrainian refugees to live with shepherds in England.

Local council authorities receive ,500 10,500 ($ 13,125) in central government funding for each refugee under the Homes for Ukrainians scheme, but receive no money for those arriving in Britain via a reunification route.

At this time, there are growing demands for the government to provide funding to local councils to support individuals entering the family reunification scheme and to allow refugees under this scheme to move on the “home for Ukrainians” route.

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Tatiana Miller, 44, who lives in Wokingham, noted that the mother, sister and her two children had all arrived on the road to family reunification, in mid-April. But two weeks later they had to return to Poland – where they had taken refuge after the Russian occupation – because in the UK their living conditions were very poor.

“We tried to fix things for a short period of time,” she says. “We did our best, but upon arrival it became clear that the situation would not be stable. They returned to Poland even though they did not know anyone. There.”

“The family reunification scheme is unfair. We do not receive any financial support, as is the case with the sponsors in the other scheme. The government seems to live on another planet. Although it is willing to help, it gives by hand. To receive” , adds Miller. In another. It’s a half-perfect synthesis, ruthless and not properly considered. “

Svetlana Obanasenko, a volunteer with the Ukrainian Social Club, notes that out of about 200 families involved in the charitable family reunification scheme since early March, 90 to 95 live in overcrowded housing.

She explained that at least 12 families of the families they support were forced to leave their relatives’ homes and register with the local council as homeless, either because the situation was unstable or because the homeowners ordered them to leave due to serious condition. overcrowding.

“Although Ukrainian families living in Britain are eager to get their relatives out of Ukraine, in reality they do not consider whether their living space is enough to accommodate them. They are just trying. “Bring all their relatives. In the end there is no other place for these people,” Obanasenko said.

This volunteer stressed that even the refugees found it difficult to get financial support and had to rely on the network of food banks. “We refer most of them to Universal Credit (given monthly to low-income or unemployed people to help them pay for their living), but it takes time. The applicant must register, verify the address of the residence and have a bank card, then he has to wait a month ”.

She added, “People are desperate. Most families have small children, which means they need baby food and diapers, which are expensive, like food in general. These families do not get information on how to get the support they need. “

A local council survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) last month found that 144 Ukrainian families have applied to 190 local authorities to declare themselves homeless since the start of the war.

The British government has since conducted its own study, but has refused to publish its findings and data. A spokesman said it was “gathering information for monitoring purposes and helping us determine if any local authorities need additional support.”

Clive Bates, a Labor Labor MP and chairman of the Leveling, Housing and Communities Committee, called the scheme a “dysfunctional disaster”. “Local authorities need to know how many refugees we have and what services they need. It is the information that needs to be available to the public sector,” he added.

He found it “ridiculous” that local councils do not receive funding for refugees under the family reunification scheme, and said that in cases where families should be registered as homeless, they should be allowed to move under the “home for Ukrainians” scheme.

John Fittonby, director of asylum and refugee policy at the British Red Cross, said it would be a mistake not to provide the same amount of comprehensive support included in the family reunification scheme (the “home for Ukrainians” scheme).

“We want families to have the support they need, regardless of the scheme under which they arrive in the country, including providing sponsors and refugees the same level of financial support, and providing local authorities with the funds they need to ensure adequate housing. he is insured “, he added.

A British government spokesman explained: “These schemes are designed to ensure that people coming to the UK fleeing the Russian occupation of Ukraine are provided with accommodation by relatives or voluntary British sponsors. Under both programs, local councils have to duty to provide the necessary support when Someone becomes homeless. “

The criticism comes at a time when it is reported that Priti Patel, the secretary of the Interior, has faced legal action for delays that have plunged Ukrainian refugees into oblivion.

The Guardian has reported that charities including Save the Children and the Refugee Council [مؤسسة تساعد اللاجئين وطالبي اللجوء في بريطانيا]is preparing to file a collective lawsuit on behalf of the hundreds of refugees who applied to travel to the UK weeks ago but were stuck in a large number of visa applications.

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