UKRAINE CRISIS: Just 50 per cent of refugees with visas to live in Peterborough have arrived in city

Dispute over reasons why so few refugees arrive in city

By Paul Grinnell
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 11:41 am

Only half of the number of Ukrainian refugees accepted to stay with hosts in Peterborough have arrived in the city, according to new figures.

Under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, also known as Homes for Ukraine and which was launched in March, residents can volunteer to house refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

But according to Home Office records, while 127 visas have now been granted to refugees to stay with hosts in Peterborough only 62 of those refugees have actually arrived.

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Concerns are growing over why only half of Ukrainian refugees with visas to join sponsors in Peterborough have actually arrived in the city.

The figures also show that there have been a total of 169 applications for the scheme under which sponsors offer accommodation for at least six months.

News of the none-arrival of many visa-holding refugees comes just weeks after it was revealed that the number of visas given out to Ukrainian refugees hoping to come to Peterborough had more than doubled in a fortnight.

The number of visas issued for refugees coming to stay with sponsors based in Peterborough stood at 106 at April 26.

That was up from 52 visas by April 19, which itself was a big jump on the 11 visas granted by April 6, when local figures on the scheme were first published.

Under the sponsorship scheme, refugees are allowed to live, work and study in the UK for up to three years.

However, the figures have sparked disagreement over why seemingly so few refugees are managing to get to the UK.

A Home Office spokesperson said some refugees were choosing to stay put or to travel elsewhere, which may explain some of the gap between arrivals and the number of visas granted.

The spokesperson called it "one of the fastest and biggest visa schemes in UK history" adding officials are now “processing visas as fast as quickly as they come in” as a result of changes to the application system.

But Andy Hewett, head of advocacy for the Refugee Council, said it had received reports of delays at every stage of the application process, and of necessary documents not reaching refugees quick enough for them to travel.

“Responding to a serious humanitarian crisis by offering complex visa routes, putting paperwork and bureaucracy before people was always going to have tragic consequences.”

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