A British couple trapped in Ukraine have described the “worrying” wait for their surrogate-born baby’s travel documents amid growing concerns Russia could invade the country.
Thousands of Britons have been urged to leave Ukraine by the UK Foreign Office due to fears a Russian invasion could be launched in the coming days.
Ben Garrett, and his wife Alice, from Queen’s Park in north London, moved to Kyiv in December, where their son was born via a surrogate.
Image: Ben Garratt with baby Raphael
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The 40-year-old said he and his wife are growing increasingly concerned following the government’s advice to leave the country.
“It does add to our worry, we’re thinking about basic things that we need to do to make sure that we’re ready to leave as soon as possible,” the London North Eastern Railway employee told PA news agency.
“If we take the advice at face value, it means the UK and also the US government are worried that Russian action is imminent – that makes us want to get out.”
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Initially, the pair were waiting for a British passport to be issued for their baby, Raphael, but now they are trying to secure an emergency travel document to return as soon as possible.
“It’s getting frustrating because we’re being told by the UK government to leave the country… and we still don’t have the document we need,” Mr Garratt added.
Image: Mr Garratt is due to attend a meeting in Kyiv next week
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He is due to have an interview with the passport office in Kyiv next week to provide proof of his son’s British citizenship, but said many of their fears revolve around making sure they have filled out Raphael’s paperwork correctly.
“There’s always the worry that we’ve missed something,” he said.
“The key individuals we’ve been talking to in the government and outside the government have been really helpful and very reassuring, but it’s the bureaucratic processes that add concern and frustration.”
Despite the issues surrounding the travel documents, Mr Garratt said life in Kyiv still feels “very normal”.
Call to leave Ukraine caused ‘quite a panic’
Back in the UK, a British medical student, who has just landed back home after studying in central Ukraine, said the government’s call to flee the country has “caused quite a panic”.
Image: Haider Ali said call to leave Ukraine has caused panic
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After landing at Gatwick Airport, Haider Ail told PA he had been in “two minds about coming back” but when a red alert was issued “everybody booked their tickets and left as soon as possible”.
The 21-year-old from Birmingham said around half of the students at the Dnipro Medical Institute, where he was studying, are British and the university had advised them to “get out as soon as you can”.
“A lot of students were sort of panic battle stations sort of thing,” he said.
“Because obviously, the general consensus of the people in Ukraine was saying that it’s the Western media is blowing it out of proportion.
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How would Russia invade Ukraine?
“But in the last couple of days, they have been saying, OK, something might be happening, especially because of Putin’s statement.”
‘You wouldn’t even know’
Meanwhile, Paul Meakin, who flew back to England on the same plane as Mr Ali, said Ukrainians do not seem to be worried about the threat of invasion.
Image: Paul Meakin, his wife Svetlana, and their daughter
The 51-year-old from Dorset, who returned with his Ukrainian-British wife and their daughter, said: “You wouldn’t even know. They don’t care, that’s what came across.”
That sentiment was echoed by 24-year-old Ukrainian Pasha Honcharuk, from Kyiv, who said he was “not too worried” and that he would have stayed home if it were not for work in the UK.
Source : Sky News