More refugees due in Mid and East Antrim arrive in UK

More refugees due to stay with sponsors in Mid and East Antrim have arrived in the UK, according to new figures.

More refugees due to stay with sponsors in Mid and East Antrim have arrived in the UK, according to new figures.

Ukrainians fleeing the conflict with Russia can apply for a visa to stay in the UK under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

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The Family Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals to stay with relatives already living in the UK, and the Sponsorship Scheme, also known as 'Homes for Ukraine' allows individuals to host refugees for a minimum of six months.

But the schemes have been beset with delays and problems with processing visas – with some warning of safeguarding issues and mismatches between hosts and refugees.

The latest Home Office data shows 27 refugees due to stay in Mid and East Antrim under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme had arrived in the UK by June 13 – up from 22 on May 16.

There has also been an increase in the number of visas issued, with 98 successful applications as of June 14, a rise on the 81 four weeks prior.

Across Northern Ireland 1,039 visas have been issued to 1,220 applicants, with 250 refugees arriving in the UK so far.

These figures do not include refugees coming to the UK under the family scheme, for which over 40,000 visas have already been issued.

The new figures come amid reports that some refugees have been made homeless due to their accommodation arrangements breaking down, or not being suitable when they arrive.

Shadow levelling up and housing secretary Lisa Nandy described the situation as “shameful”.

“The British people showed amazing generosity in stepping up in their thousands to provide the care and sanctuary that these people – many of them families with young children – needed and deserved in such awful circumstances.

“But the Government has failed miserably to play its part.

“Ministers were warned about the risk of refugees becoming homeless on the day they launched the sponsorship scheme, but they were more interested in grandstanding in television studios than doing their jobs to protect vulnerable people.”

While figures are not yet available on homelessness among refugees in the UK's other nations, in England there were 660 homeless Ukrainian households as of June 3, including 480 with children.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said “the overwhelming majority” of people are settling in well and that only a minority of cases have seen family or sponsor relationships break down.