17th March, 2022 1:22 pm
THE Home Office has been accused of “obstructing” a group of almost 50 orphans from travelling from Ukraine to the Scotland.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the House of Commons that the Government department’s refusal to assist in granting the “necessary paperwork” to allow the group to travel “risks leaving those children stranded”.
Blackford pleaded with deputy prime minister Dominic Raab to “remove obstructions” to guarantee that the orphans can board a plane headed for the UK on Friday.
Raab was standing in for Prime Minister at PMQs whilst Boris Johnson is on a trip to Saudi Arabia.
The orphans are being supported by charity Dnipro Kids, established by fans of Hibernian football club in Edinburgh, who evacuaetd 48 children and their guardians to Poland. They now want to give them safe temporary refuge in Scotland.
Raab claimed that the delay was due to “safeguarding issues”.
Blackford told the Commons on Wednesday: “There is a plane ready and waiting in Poland to bring these orphans to the UK on Friday but that flight will leave empty without the necessary paperwork from the Home Office.
“The Polish authorities, Edinburgh city council, Scottish Government and the orphans guardians are all working to bring these children to safety.
“I’ve worked with UK Government ministers to try and make this happen and I want to commend Lord Harrington in particular for his efforts.
“But a week on the Home Office is still proving to be the only obstacle in the way and it risks leading those children stranded.
“So I’m pleading with the deputy prime minister to remove these obstructions before it’s too late.
“Will he work with me and the Ukrainian authorities to guarantee these 48 orphans will get on that plane this Friday?”
Raab responded that it was a “heart-rending situation” and that the UK Government “wants to do everything we can”.
He added: “Of course there are a range of issues in this case including the wishes of the Ukrainian government on where orphan children should go and be living, whether any necessary permissions are being sought from the Ukrainian or Polish governments.
“This isn’t actually about bureaucracy, it’s about genuine safeguarding issues, but I certainly want to work with him in the best interests of those children.”
Raab claimed the delay was duing to safeguarding issues
Blackford added that the case of the orphans “goes to the heart of the failure of the UK Government’s response” to the refugee crisis.
He explained: “It is deeply concerning that it’s taken the intervention of several ministers of state, letters to multiple european ambassadors and the fear of this case being exposed in the chamber to try and force movement in an urgent case involving almost 50 vulnerable children.
“Even where there is the will it seems simply there is no way that the Home Office can get involved.
“I shouldn’t have been sending letters to the authorities in Ukraine and Poland, the Home Office should have been doing it.
“If all these powerful people can’t make it happen, what hope do all the other children fleeing this awful war have of finding sanctuary in the UK?
“The United Nations are now estimating that almost one child a second is becoming a refugee from the war in Ukraine.
“These 48 children will not be the last who need sanctuary and safety, surely the DPM agrees it shouldn’t have taken this level of intervention and presure for the Home Office to do the right thing by these children.”
Blackford said the Home Officer were being obstructive
Raab said that it was important “proper international practices on safeguarding are followed”.
He added: “I know he appreciates that. We’re keen to find out if family reunion options with Ukrainian family in the region have been considered.
“We also know, can he just listen for a second because it’s important, that many children in state care in Ukraine have family members in the region for safeguarding and wellbeing of the children, that must also be considered.”
Dnipro Kids was founded in 2005 by a Hibs supporter after the team played a match in the Ukrainian city.
The charity has helped groups of orphans come to the team’s Easter Road ground to watch them play over the years.
Source: The National.Scot
Categorised in: News