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UK Government Scheme on Helping Ukrainian Refugees Gives Them 'False Hope', Charity Head Says

© AP Photo / Alastair GrantRefugee puppet Little-Amal makes an appearance outside the Ukrainian Embassy , London, Thursday, March 10, 2022
Refugee puppet Little-Amal makes an appearance outside the Ukrainian Embassy ,  London, Thursday, March 10, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.03.2022
Late last week, UK Shadow Communities Secretary Lisa Nandy warned that the government's Homes for Ukraine scheme will be "completely unworkable" unless Downing Street scraps excessive bureaucracy and takes urgent steps to coordinate the matching process.
Robina Qureshi, the head of the charity Positive Action in Housing, has lashed out at a UK government scheme aimed at helping Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing their country amid Russia's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine.

"The government made a fanfare of its Homes for Ukraine community sponsorship programme. [British Housing and Communities Secretary] Michael Gove told parliament on 14 March that there was no limit on the numbers coming in. Yet none of the families we are supporting have yet got a visa to travel under the community sponsorship scheme and are still waiting", Qureshi told PA Media on Sunday.

She said that her charity had been dealing with 483 Ukrainian families, young people, and unaccompanied minors who needed a sponsor to house them, in line with the Homes for Ukraine scheme. According to Qureshi, the forms involved in this government programme are "tortuous and confusing – with no guideline".
The Positive Action in Housing head asserted that Ukrainian refugees are turning to "wholly unsafe methods" of entering the UK, "meeting people in Facebook groups, on social media". Qureshi stated that the British government is "responsible for giving people false hope and putting them further in the way of danger".

Shadow Secretary Says Homes for Ukraine Plan May Prove 'Unworkable'

She spoke after Labour MP and Shadow Communities Secretary Lisa Nandy told The Observer that the government should do away with excessive bureaucracy and take more steps to coordinate the matching process so that the Homes for Ukraine scheme can work.

"There is no formal central system of matching the people on the register to those in need, which is pretty extraordinary. When you add in the excessive layers of bureaucracy – the lengthy forms and the documents you need to prove your identity and residency – the barriers make this scheme completely unworkable. Unless urgent steps are taken to address this, we will see very small numbers of people taking up this offer and a lot of the public's generosity squandered", Nandy asserted.

This was preceded by The Telegraph reporting that the Homes for Ukraine scheme had descended into chaos as Britons launch bidding wars on social media boasting about their homes. According to the newspaper, users on Facebook are competing against each other, bragging about the size of their houses, bedrooms, as well as leisure facilities located nearby.
Ukrainian refugees are said to have received 300 posts each with Brits offering them a place to stay in their houses. The Telegraph claimed that at least 147,000 people have registered for the Homes for Ukraine scheme, citing sources as saying that this amounted to more than 400,000 rooms.

Homes for Ukraine Scheme

Under the Homes for Ukraine programme, residents of Britain have to offer accommodation for Ukrainian refuges for at least six months. The scheme stipulates that the government will provide "a substantial level of funding to local authorities to enable them to provide much wider support to families to rebuild their lives and fully integrate into" UK communities and people will have access to public services, work, and benefits.
Authorities are offering an optional "thank you" payment of £350 ($460) per month to people who can accommodate one or more households, in sync with the programme. It is limited to one payment per residential address.
The scheme was unveiled after the chiefs of the UK's MI5 and MI6 reportedly warned Home Secretary Priti Patel against easing visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees, purportedly due to the risk they could include Daesh* militants and mafia-linked criminals.
The Daily Mail quoted unnamed senior intelligence sources as saying that "no one disputes that this is a humanitarian tragedy, and that 99.9 percent of the refugees [from Ukraine] are genuine". The sources, however, cautioned that the British government "cannot just allow a complete open-door policy", adding, "Ukraine is a melting pot at the moment, and we have already been presented with fake passports".

Europe's 'Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis

UN estimates show that more than 3.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in the country on 24 February. Neighbouring Poland has so far received the most refugees, with others travelling to Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, Romania, and the UK.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi argued that the current wave of those fleeing Ukraine is the "fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II".
Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine in order to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country, following a request for help from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, which saw weeks of intensifying shelling by the Ukrainian Army. The goal of the operation is to destroy Ukraine's military infrastructure with high-precision weapons, which do not target civilians, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.
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*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.
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