Only 46,100 visa-holders have actually made it to the UK (Picture: Nick Hills)
A British volunteer on the Polish border claims the Homes for Ukraine visa scheme is putting the lives of refugees at risk over ‘excessive bureaucracy’.
Nick Hills, 47, has spent the last two months delivering food and medical supplies – like tourniquets and blood fridges – to hard-hit areas and helping civilians flee the country.
Seeing first-hand how slow the visa process is, the dad-of-two is appealing to the government to act on the ‘shambles’ he has witnessed.
Describing the scheme as an ‘absolute joke’, Mr Hills told Metro.co.uk refugees are forced to make a three-day trip across Poland to obtain one piece of paper allowing them to get on a plane to Britain.
‘People have to take a six-hour train ride to Warsaw to collect the visa in person and then a six-hour train ride back to us,’ he explained.
‘The reality is this actually turns into three days because of train cancellations, delays and problems at the border. I’ve had to find people an emergency hotel in Warsaw before.
‘It’s an absolute disgrace. All they really need is a piece of paper with a stamp on it to be able to get on a plane from an airport, which is half an hour from here.
‘When they arrive at the visa office, there is no Russian speaker on site, meaning refugees are asked to bring their own translator before being told they should have printed their form before arrival at the centre.
Ms Bulatova and Ms Hills after she crossed the border to Poland (Picture: Nick Hills)
‘Expecting a family escaping a bombed tower block to have access to a printer or the internet just beggars belief.
‘It’s farcical. People are just put at risk in so many places along the process.’
Leaving behind his wife and two young children in London, Mr Hills set up the Ukraine Humanitarian Hub after his first visit to the Polish camp at Korczowa at the end of March.
Currently, he is helping coordinate the efforts of thousands of volunteers at the border and the aid process.
Posting to the initiative’s Facebook page, the Brit also organises minibuses and coaches for visa holders from war-torn areas in Ukraine to Poland, and then to other European countries.
Earlier this month, Mr Hills put together a nearly impossible mission to evacuate an elderly woman called Ms Bulatova from Kharkiv, a crucial Russian target.
Mr Hills set up the Ukraine Humanitarian Hub after his first visit to the Polish camp at Korczowa (Picture: Nick Hills)
He organises the delivery of food and medical supplies like tourniquets and blood fridges (Picture: Nick Hills)
‘The wonderful Bulatova and I got to finally meet in person – it was incredibly emotional for both of us and we hugged like old friends,’ he …read more
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