SHARE
COPY LINK

UKRAINE

France accuses UK of ‘lack of humanity’ on Ukraine refugees

France on Saturday accused Britain of an inadequate response and lacking humanity in assisting Ukrainian refugees who are seeking to join family in the UK from the French Channel port of Calais.

France accuses UK of 'lack of humanity' on Ukraine refugees
France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin speaks to the press after a meeting with the French prefects about welcoming Ukranian fleeing their country, at the Interior Ministry at Place Beauvau in Paris, on March 1, 2022. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

Hundreds of Ukrainians have come to Calais in the last days after fleeing the Russian invasion of their country hoping to join relatives already established in the UK.  

The response of the UK is “completely unsuitable” and shows a “lack of humanity” towards refugees who are often “in distress”, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in a letter to British counterpart Priti Patel seen by AFP, urging London to set up a proper consular presence in Calais to issue visas.  

Darmanin said that in the last days 400 Ukrainian refugees have presented themselves at Calais border crossings but some 150 of them were told go go away and obtain visas at UK consulates in Paris or Brussels.  

France had said Thursday that Britain would set up a pop-up visa centre in Calais to issue visas after Britain announced a family scheme to allow immediate and extended family members of Ukrainians settled in the UK to travel there.  

“It is imperative that your consular representation, exceptionally and for the duration of this crisis, is able to issue visas for family reunification on the spot in Calais,” said Darmanin.  

He said it was “incomprehensible” that the UK was able to provide such services on the ground in Poland on the Ukrainian border but could not in the UK’s closest neighbour France.  

Darmanin’s letter to Patel comes months after a new surge in post-Brexit tensions between the two countries in the wake of the drowning in November 2021 of 27 migrants seeking to illegally cross the Channel to England in a small boat.  

The tragedy prompted both sides to exchange accusations of not doing enough to protect migrants and crack down on people traffickers who organise the dangerous crossings in small boats.  

“Our coasts have been the scene of too many human tragedies,” Darmamin told Patel, alluding to the risk that Ukrainians could seek to cross clandestinely by sea if they did not obtain visas. 

“Let’s not add to that those Ukrainian families,” he said.

SEE ALSO: How to help Ukrainians in Paris and across France

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

UKRAINE

France ‘strongly condemns’ Russia’s expulsion of its diplomats

France "strongly condemns" the expulsion of 34 of its diplomats by Russia, the foreign ministry said Wednesday, a tit-for-tat move by Moscow after Paris ordered some Russian staff to leave.

France 'strongly condemns' Russia's expulsion of its diplomats

Saying the step had “no legitimate basis”, the ministry said in a statementthat “the work of the diplomats and staff at (France’s) embassy in Russia… takes place fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations” — whereas Paris expelled the Russian staff in April on suspicion of being spies.

Moscow said Wednesday it was expelling 34 “employees of French diplomatic missions” in a tit-for-tat move following the
expulsion of Russian diplomats from France as part of joint European action over Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.

“Thirty four employees of French diplomatic missions in Russia have been declared persona non grata,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that they have two weeks to leave the country.

Moscow made the announcement after summoning France’s ambassador to Russia, Pierre Levy, and telling him that the expulsion of 41 employees of Russian diplomatic missions was a “provocative and unfounded decision”, the statement
said.

“It has been stressed that this step causes serious damage to Russian-French relations and constructive bilateral cooperation,” the foreign ministry said.

French President Emmanuel Macron initially led diplomatic outreach to the Kremlin over Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine but his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin have eventually tapered off and overt French military
support to Ukraine has increased in recent months.

SHOW COMMENTS