Emmanuel Macron condemns UK’s ‘grand statements’ over Ukrainian refugees

French President Emmanuel Macron has criticised the British government for failing to live up to its “grand statements” on helping those fleeing war in Ukraine.
Speaking at the end of an EU summit in Versailles, the French president welcomed Britain’s policy change, which follows widespread condemnation of the UK’s response the crisis.
More than 2.5 million people, including more than a million children, have already fled Ukraine, with Russia’s invasion leading to the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.
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Image: More than 2.5 million people -including more than a million children – have fled Ukraine. Pic: AP
France was fiercely critical of Britain’s failure to open a visa application centre in Calais, which meant refugees – who had already travelled thousands of miles to Calais – were redirected to Paris or Brussels.
Mr Macron said: “I welcome the British shift, which shows there was a problem, despite what was being said.
“I think nobody would have understood that despite all the grand statements we did together, the British government continued to apply current rules that meant they did not welcome Ukrainian refugees who wanted to reach British soil.”
There had been calls for Home Secretary Priti Patel to resign after she spoke about a visa centre having been set up “en route to Calais”. However, this was not the case.

Key developments:• Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to launch airstrikes in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol on Friday• Russia also used high-precision, long-range weapons to put military airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk “out of action”• The mayor of a Ukrainian city has been abducted by Russian forces, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says• Thousands of civilians and soldiers on both sides are believed to have been killed in the invasion so far• 7,144 people were evacuated from four Ukrainian cities on Friday, Mr Zelenskyy says

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Ukraine war: Day 16
Britain’s policy change
The UK had refused to offer visa-free refuge to Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion, with only those with close family already in Britain or those able to obtain sponsorship by a third party allowed to enter the country under the rules.
Now a second system to streamline refugee requests will be put in place, where individuals, charities, businesses and community groups will be able to offer rooms to those escaping the conflict.
Speaking to the Beth Rigby Interviews… programme, Mr Johnson said that Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove will set out details of the “generous” new sponsored humanitarian route on Monday.

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The UK’s Ukraine family scheme will include a hotline and webpage for offering rooms to refugees.
Starmer on the crisis
When asked whether he would be willing to take a Ukrainian refugee into his own home, shadow leader Sir Kier Starmer told Sky News on Saturday that he “would be more than happy to play his part”.
Ukrainians will now also be able to apply for a visa online, and will no longer have to go to a visa application centre in person. Successful applicants will now be able to give their biometrics once they are already in the country.
French Home Affairs Minister Gerald Darmanin had previously written to Ms Patel urging her to cut back on red tape around refugees entering the country and set up UK consular services in Calais.

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Zelenskyy says Russia is transitioning to a ‘new stage of terror’
The EU has granted Ukrainian refugees immediate residency rights, as well as access to medical care, schools and the labour market. Ukrainian citizens already have 90-day visa free access to the EU.
The Red Cross has said the best way to solve the refugee crisis is to waive the need for visas, which has been done by other countries including France and Germany.
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Source : Sky News