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Patel: Ukrainians arriving in Poland are fleeing ‘most atrocious circumstances’

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efugees fleeing Ukraine are escaping the “most atrocious set of circumstances”, the Home Secretary said during her trip to the Polish border.

Priti Patel travelled to Medyka, Poland, to mark the Ukraine family scheme opening on Friday to allow Britons and those settled in the UK to bring their relatives over to join them.

Ms Patel said work is being done “night and day” to ensure those fleeing the advancing Russian troops can seek refuge.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine but also with our dear friends here in Poland, who are working really night and day

The Cabinet minister said people crossing the border – the majority of them women and children – are coming from the “most atrocious set of circumstances where they are being persecuted by (Russia’s) President Putin”.

She was in the country “very much in terms of standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, but also with our friends here in Poland”, Ms Patel said.

The UK’s initial visa offer was restricted to immediate family but widened on Tuesday to include parents, grandparents and siblings, with applications opening on Friday.

A sponsorship scheme will also allow individuals and organisations to bring Ukrainians to the UK.

Ms Patel said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine but also with our dear friends here in Poland, who are working really night and day, we can all see this, under incredible circumstances.”

The new-expanded family route will allow thousands more Ukrainians to come to the UK free of charge, with three years’ leave to remain and access to benefits and the right to work.

The Home Office on Friday afternoon said it is too early to say how many applications have been made.

Ms Patel said it was “heartbreaking” to have met those “forced from their homeland because of the monstrous Russian invasion”.

But she said seeing the first people who will apply to the expanded scheme was “wonderful”.

“While we want people to be able to return to their homes at the end of this diabolical invasion, giving thousands of people a route to the UK is the right thing to do,” she said.

“The whole of the UK is united in our condemnation of Russia’s barbaric and cold-blooded actions and the Government is doing everything possible to make certain our humanitarian support is in Ukraine’s best interests.”

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