James O'Brien: 'Every passing day makes the scandal bigger'

5 April 2022, 15:36 | Updated: 5 April 2022, 15:47

James O'Brien says Government has 'failed' Ukrainian refugees

By James Bickerton

James O'Brien rips apart the government's slow response to the refugee crisis coming out of Ukraine, asking 'how could they fail so catastrophically?'

In March Housing Minister Michael Gove announced the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme, under which Britons can offer to take refugees from Ukraine into their private homes.

However, last week the Government admitted only 4,700 visas have been granted under the scheme, despite 32,200 applications being received.

James contrasted the kindness of the British public, with over 200,000 people signing up to receive refugees, with the official response.

He said: "The Government got to say 'well nobody can accuse us of being ungenerous because 200,000 warm hearted Brits have applied to help a Ukrainian family come here'.

"But when you're looking two or three weeks later, and learning that 4,700 visas have been issued, I'm afraid that's impossible to square. I can't make sense of that.

"The Government boasts about how generous the British people are then does nothing to help those people offer refuge to a Ukrainian family."

More than ten million people, or nearly 25% of the pre-war population, have fled their homes in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

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James added: "It was this time last week that I said to you 'I honestly think that by the end of this week things will be getting better', and if anything they're getting worse.

"The successful issuing of visas are now so tiny that every passing day makes the scandal bigger.

"I don't understand how that has happened."

Over the last few days evidence has emerged of widespread suspected Russian war crimes in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kiev, including the execution of civilians and torture.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at least 300 civilians have been killed in Bucha, though this figure has not been independently verified.

The Kremlin has denied the reports, claiming the massacres were stages, though this has been dismissed by independent experts.

In addition to the 'Houses for Ukraine' scheme, the UK has granted 22,800 family visas to Ukrainians.

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