'Utterly draconian' Borders Bill 'slams the door' on Ukrainian refugees, activist warns

27 February 2022, 09:56 | Updated: 27 February 2022, 09:58

Govt wants to 'rip up the Refugee Convention' amid Ukraine asylum crisis

By Seán Hickey

The UK's current plans to amend the asylum system with the Borders Bill will criminalise some Ukrainian asylum seekers, the head of a refugee charity warns LBC.

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Russian troops are faced with fierce resistance from Ukrainian military and citizens as Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine continues.

Ukrainians have been fleeing for weeks as tensions rose, bringing questions of how the UK would facilitate an influx of refugees. Sonya Sceats of Freedom from Torture joined Andrew Castle to assess Britain's response so far.

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Ms Sceats welcomed comments from Boris Johnson where the PM made a commitment to welcoming refugees. She noted however, that the government are actively passing laws contradicting such a move.

"His government are trying to push through a law that would effectively criminalise any Ukrainians who do make their own way here to claim asylum."

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She insisted that the government are "driving a coach and horses through the refugee convention" with the Borders Bill, telling Andrew that Clause 11 of the bill "would make it illegal for someone to reach Britain through irregular routes".

In this case, the activist said this meant if a Ukrainian asylum seeker arrived in the UK before claiming asylum, they could be "placed at risk of detention and forced removal from Britain.

"It's utterly draconian"

Issuing a warning to MPs voting with the measure, Ms Sceats told them they are "voting to slam the door in the faces of Ukrainian men, women and children."

The current Home Office advice is as follows:

The UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Kyiv is now closed and all UK visa services in Kyiv are suspended. Family members of British nationals who usually live in Ukraine and need a UK visa can apply through the new, temporary location in the Lemberg Business Centre in the city of Lviv to give their biometrics. Alternatively, you can apply through a VAC in a nearby country if you are able to safely travel. VACs are currently operating in:

  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Hungary
  • Moldova

All other visa applicants will be unable to apply through a VAC in Ukraine. If you are able to safely travel, you can apply through a VAC in one of these nearby countries.