Hundreds of Ukraianian refugees are allegedly being rehoused after they were offered homes with “unsuitable people”, it has been reported.
Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme those granted visas are matched with households in the UK.
Refugee charities have warned since the scheme’s launch that with most of the refugees being women and children, and with many matches made on social media websites such as Facebook, the scheme risked being targeted by predatory men.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which runs the scheme, claims that no visa is issued until the Home Office has completed thorough checks on every adult in a sponsor household.
However, a source told the Observer that the department is “looking for bridging accommodation for a group of 600 refugees who have come to the UK, but the people they have come to stay with have been found to be unsuitable”.
As an emergency measure the refugees have been placed in hotels but ministers are working to put some in student accommodation until a suitable match can be found.
A second source said: “These 600 Ukrainian refugees had been granted visas, but their sponsors were found to be unsuitable either because they had a criminal record or for some other reason.”
The Department for Levelling Up did not deny the story when approached btu disputed the overall numbers quoted.
Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, a charity that set up the UK’s first refugee hosting programme and is matching 1,000 Ukrainians with families across the UK, said: “It’s a free-for-all matching system,” she said.
“We don’t agree with social media as a tool for meeting vulnerable people like this.
“Refugees have been led along by people saying they are registered for Homes for Ukraine, which sounds like some official guarantee when that isn’t the case.”
Yvonne Kachikoti, head of resettlement and integration services at charity Refugee Action, told the Observer: “The government’s reckless and unregulated approach to matching has put vulnerable refugees at considerable risk of ending up in the homes of people planning to exploit them.”
She added: “Already traumatised families forced to leave their Homes for Ukraine host after a nasty experience are unlikely to want to be rematched with another sponsor.”