When Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, was asked how the UK government was doing in terms of assisting people fleeing Ukraine, this was his response:
‘Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re in a very good place. We’re looking at the worst refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. We have a scheme in place that’s only issued hundreds of visas to allow Ukrainians to come here. We have Ukrainians queueing up in Calais, at the visa application centre in Poland, unable to access documentation. I think the government is making a fundamental error here: it’s not adopting a refugees-first approach, which it should be adopting. It seems to be adopting an approach which is “paperwork over people”, people who have lost everything through no fault of their own. Instead, what they’ve chosen to do, it would appear, is effectively tinker with a standard visa scheme, which is a managed migration route, rather than respond in a way that is required to an urgent humanitarian crisis. I think that is a gross oversight by this government. I think it unfortunately sends a message to Ukrainians that “we’re not welcoming you”. We’re not creating a system that is quick, fair and efficient to enable those Ukrainians to come to the UK who want to come here.”
The bottom line: temporarily waive visa requirements for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. It’s the simplest and most effective solution to the current crisis, and it’s what the British public want the government to do.