A London-based construction worker and his family were left stranded in France after driving from the capital to Ukraine /The Romanian border to pick up his terrified family living in Chernivtsi. Ivan Amaritsa was then forced to ‘zigzag’ around Europe for the past two weeks in an attempt to secure visas to return to the UK. He lives in a hostel that currently serves as an unofficial HQ with his wife Christina, four-year-old daughter Julia, and 20-month-old son Ivan Jr.
The ‘office’ had been set up to provide advice initially, but as it is located at the exit of the ferry, it has become an unofficial HQ. Ivan had picked up his family from their home in Chernivtsi, south-west Ukraine, but was struggling to get the proper visas to be able to make the round trip to collect his family from a war zone.
He said The mirror: “I was told to drive to Paris to get visas, which I did. When I arrived I was turned away and told to go to Brussels, so here we are. We were turned away there. I heard some friends talking about the shelter in Calais so we drove here. When we got here we found out we couldn’t get visas here. I thought logged in and managed to get a visa appointment for tomorrow.”
READ MORE: Man uses London black cab to transport over 80 vulnerable Ukrainians across Polish border
“My car has broken down – it’s not good. I need to spend a lot of money on this but I hope it gets to Paris. It’s all so expensive. The fuel costs have been unbelievable He added: “I had to leave my mother and mother-in-law behind in Ukraine. I don’t know what happened to them.”
Refugees fleeing the ongoing war in Ukraine are trying to find refuge in countries in Europe as their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed or endangered. Some decided to go to Paris, but a lack of communication and help led many to seek help elsewhere.
Another family waiting for a visa to enter the UK is waiting in Calais. Ismatull and Muhabat Radhabov try to find their cousin who lives in London and is waiting with their daughter Ayesha in Calais.
Kiev restaurant owner Ismatull said: “We managed to escape, but we just want to go to England, but we don’t have the right documents. “My cousin lives in London so we have a place to go, but at the moment we are not allowed to go there. I really hope that will be sorted out soon.”
Many more stories have emerged of refugees left without visas desperately trying to find refuge as war continues in their home country.
Sales manager Vitalii Morgun, 36, from Romford, east London, has spent more than a week in mainland Europe trying to help his family gain refugee status in the UK. Mr Morgun told the Mirror: “We have tried to call every possible office, department and visa center and no one knows anything.
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“They keep pointing fingers at each other and saying we have to wait.”
So far, the Home Office says 300 refugees from Ukraine have been granted visas under the new scheme for those with relatives in the UK.
They also said that 17,700 reintegration applications from relatives had started but 600 refugees were stuck in Calais. Some of them had said that they were turned back for lack of documents.
Downing Street revealed earlier this week that a visa processing site would be established in the northern French city of Lille “in the coming days”.
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Trainee journalist – LGBT+ specialist. Previously worked for Daily Star, The Sun, Brixton Blog and South West Londoner.
Three stories written this month include an in-depth interview with LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell ahead of the 50th anniversary of UK Gay Pride, an interview with a former lieutenant commander who had to keep his sexuality a secret in the armed forces for 20 years who lost his partner to AIDS two days before leaving the Navy and a conversation with the founder of The Gay Men’s Dance Company which offers vocational training, pole dancing and a dance class in heels.
You have a story? You can reach me at [email protected] or DM me on Twitter @mattlspivey.