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Bishop Martin Seely thumb.jpg
Diocese Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Bishop Martin Seely thumb.jpg
Diocese Edmundsbury & Ipswich
World News

Suffolk bishop frustrated by delays in government Ukrainian refugee scheme

by Kelly Valencia

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, who signed up to host a Ukrainian refugee family, says he is still waiting for them to arrive.

A month ago, Rt Rev Martin Seeley and his wife decided to register their home for the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme to house refugees fleeing the war.

But Bishop Martin told the BBC he is “frustrated” as he still has no idea of when the family might arrive at his home and called for changes to speed up the process.

"The frustration is that the government's approach to this continues to be quite protracted," he said.

Bishop Martin continued: "Certainly people are getting hooked up to hosts, refugees are getting brought to this country, but the process is slow and the numbers are quite low in proportion to the number of people that have actually applied for visas.

"Ukrainians have been able to enter other countries, such as Poland and Germany much more easily because there isn't the visa requirement."

Last week, Home Secretary Priti Patel apologised for the delays to the sponsorship scheme but guaranteed the UK will “absolutely see changes in numbers” as work continues.

But for Bishop Martin, the apology should translate into “actually lifting some of the requirements”.

"What I would hope is to see the apology followed up by a change in the regulations and requirements.

"I am just struck that at a point of catastrophic crisis we still insist on a whole number of hoops to jump through when other countries in Europe have seen fit to set those aside," he concluded.

As of 7 April, at least 1,200 refugees had arrived in the UK via the visa scheme.

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