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UK government approach to Ukrainian refugees branded as ‘deeply shameful’

The Labour party has criticized the government’s legislation, which ‘could criminalize desperate Ukrainians’

UK Labour has blasted the Conservatives’ approach to the issue of refugees as “deeply shameful,” after the government confirmed its plan to proceed with legislation which could see the illegal migrants, including Ukrainians, imprisoned for four years.

The Nationality and Borders Bill, which has returned to the Commons on Tuesday with a number of changes made during the third reading in the upper chamber of the parliament, is poised to significantly toughen immigration rules. Among other measures, it intends to introduce a jail sentence of up to four years for anyone entering the country without correct documents. Also, it makes it impossible for an illegal immigrant to immediately apply for asylum.

According to The Guardian, citing a Home Office briefing note for MPs, the ministers are not going to compromise on these measures and plan to block the Lords’ amendments aimed at softening the bill.

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People fleeing Ukraine arrive on a train from Poland at Hauptbahnhof main railway station on March 4, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. © Getty Images / Maja Hitij
German towns struggle to accommodate Ukrainian refugees – media

As the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country amid war with Russia is constantly growing and is now counted in millions, the shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called on Conservative parliamentarians to put pressure on the government to make it agree to amend the bill.

It is unbelievable and deeply shameful that at a time like this [Home Secretary] Priti Patel is still pushing ahead with plans that could criminalise desperate Ukrainians who arrived in the UK with the wrong papers, and mean vulnerable refugees who have fled war or persecution could end up with prison sentences,” Cooper said.

The government apparently does not agree with this logic: the Home Office source quoted by The Guardian said that the bill’s purpose was to crack down on people-smuggling and would thus help free up more resources for refugees such as those from Ukraine. The Home Secretary is known for her tough position when it comes to illegal immigration. As the numbers of migrants trying to cross the English Channel has significantly grown over the last years, Patel pledged to fix “the broken asylum system” and to “reduce the incentives” for people illegally coming to the UK, thus “removing the opportunity for criminal gangs to profit.

On Monday, the Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that the UK had already issued 9,500 visas to Ukrainians with family connections in the country, and that 150,000 people had signed up for hosting refugees through the Homes for Ukraine program. In total, Javid expects “hundreds of thousands” of Ukrainians to arrive in Britain.

However, charity organizations apparently do not share Javid’s optimism, saying that UK visa applications are long and difficult to complete, especially for people in stress, and therefore might become a serious obstacle for the refugees.

Though the UK says that measures are being taken to simplify the visa application process, visa waiver for Ukrainians is apparently not being considered. Javid made it clear that “some level of security checks” on the asylum seekers is necessary.

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© Stepan Kostetskiy
Surviving among ruins: Life in a Donbass city Ukraine says no longer exists

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, around 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since February 24, when Russia launched its “special military operation.”

Moscow attacked Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics with capitals in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims that it had been planning to retake the two republics by force.

https://ift.tt/6RqAknK 22, 2022 at 01:58AM
from RT – Daily news

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