Teenage girl forced back to Ukraine due to UK visa delay, says MP

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Tulip Siddiq (PA Archive)
Tulip Siddiq (PA Archive)

A teenage girl who fled Ukraine has been forced to return to the war torn country because the UK has not granted her visa request, an MP has said.

Labour's Tulip Siddiq has raised the case of the 13-year-old who escaped the Russian invasion with her sister, aged 18, in April.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, the Hampstead and Kilburn MP said the older sister was given permission to travel to the UK on April 13 after a family in north London agreed to sponsor the pair.

But Ms Siddiq said the younger teenager did not have her visa application accepted by the Home Office because she was not travelling with her parents who had stayed behind to fight.

In a letter to Priti Patel, she said: "It is not acceptable to put vulnerable children in these exceptionally dangerous situations and force them to return to war-torn areas of Ukraine. We of course recognise the dangers of child trafficking, but the Home Office must have a more sophisticated approach for legitimate cases such as this."

The delay in processing the visas left both teenagers stuck in a temporary hostel in Montenegro earlier this year, Ms Siddiq added.

She explained the pair were split up when the older sister came to London and the younger girl's mother was forced to come and get her before then returning to Ukraine.

Despite their parents now securing an official certificate stating the older sister can act as a legal guardian, Ms Siddiq said the visa has still not been approved by the Home Office.

She also raised the case during PMQs on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson said: "I understand her indignation about the case. I know the Home Secretary will look into it. I know our record so far we have processed 120k visa for Ukrainians is creditable and I thank the staff involved in that effort."

The Home Office said it takes the safety of children extremely seriously.

It was due to safeguarding requirements and specialist care needs that only under-18s who are reuniting with a parent or legal guardian in the UK are eligible for the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme.

The eligibility of the refugee schemes is under constant review, the Government added.

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