Ukrainian family struggling to make it to Fermanagh

THE WAR in Ukraine has been raging for four months now, yet families fleeing the horror are still facing an uphill battle to make it to refuge in Fermanagh.
In fact, one family who has been sponsored by a host couple here in the county still hasn’t been able to travel here due to visa and passport problems as a result of the overly-bureaucratic and restrictive UK refugee regulations.
In what is now a sadly familiar story, the young family fled from their home outside Kyiv at the start of the Russian invasion.
Currently living together in one room in Warsaw, the mother and her two children have been sponsored by Boho couple Maria Forde and Peter McGregor to come to stay with them in Fermanagh.
However, they have still been unable to do so.
While the mother has been granted her visa and her paperwork is in order, problems had arisen with her daughter’s visa. That has now been sorted out, however they have still been unable to travel as their son’s passport is within three months of expiry.
Peter said the family had already faced the heartbreak of leaving their husband and father behind in Ukraine to fight, and were now being treated terribly.
“They are in a place run by nuns in Poland, and have been told to continue staying there they have to sign a three month contract for work, to pay for their accommodation, or go back to Ukraine,” he said.
“The mother said there are rocket attacks every day and they are getting closer and closer to where their house is.”
Peter added, “If you were to put yourself in that situation, you would welcome help from anybody. Then you get stuck on a shelf for months, basically, not knowing if you’re coming or going, it must be really stressful.”
Maria said the UK’s refugee policy had left the family too frightened to try to take another route.
“We said to them, come to Dublin, you won’t need visas. I have two brothers in the South who they could stay with. She was terrified she’d get stopped at borders, she was too afraid to do it,” said Maria.
Peter added, “Also, now with this Rwanda situation, if they are refused refugee status they fear they could be shipped off to Rwanda.”
Like other families the Herald has spoken with, Maria said the lack of support had been what frustrated them the most.
“We’ve asked around various people and nobody is offering any help,” she said.
“The few families that are arriving in Fermanagh or who have already arrived are getting no help.”
Peter added the entire refugee scheme was off-putting for those involved.
“They’re making it so difficult they’ll end up just giving up,” he said.

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