Ukraine refugees: 122,000 Britons rush to take in evacuees

Ukraine: Refugee breaks down in tears talking to Rob Rinder

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One family of four who fled across the border to Moldova are in line to be one of the first families to be given a home. Lillia and Vitalii Kucher, and their daughters Victoria, 14, and Ilona, six, have been offered accommodation at Sabrina and Tony O’Brien’s home in Driffield near Hull, East Yorkshire. The Kuchers matched with the O’Briens, who have three daughters, using EU4UA, a social media-style platform that links refugees to potential hosts before the Government launched its Homes For Ukraine scheme.

Mrs O’Brien has now registered with the official programme in the hope they can be processed as quickly as possible.

“We are ex-Londoners and bought a six-bedroomed house in Driffield. We are lucky enough to have the space and only five of us in our house,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

“I can see Lillia is scared. Food is running out. Petrol is running low and it is three hours’ drive to the airport.

“All the other countries are helping and I want to do everything in my power to help them feel safe, loved and supported. It is our duty and, besides, would we not want the same if it were us?

“Their home, business, and livelihood have been des­troyed, but not their future. We, with the help of others, will make sure ­of that.”

English teacher Lillia and her husband, a builder, are staying with family a mile from the Ukraine border in Moldova where they can hear the bombs falling.

Demand to take part in the scheme was so great the government website crashed within the first few minutes of going live. By last night 122,000 Britons had signed up.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said he was “actually quite proud” the website crashed and 10,000 people were signing up every hour at one point.

Hosts are expected to house ­refugees for at least six months in exchange for a £350 monthly ­tax-free thank-you payment.

Sponsors have to undergo vetting checks but it does not affect benefit entitlements. Mr Johnson said: “It’s fantastic that over 100,000 people and organisations have recorded their interest in supporting Ukrainians fleeing the war through the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Thank you to everyone across the country who has stepped up to offer their ­help so far.”

MPs who are planning to sign ­up include Sir Keir Starmer, Matt Hancock, Michael Gove, Grant Shapps, Ed Davey, Louise Haigh and Ben Wallace. A Ukrainian mother and daughter have also used social media to find a new home in the UK.

Niyara Mamontova, 40, fled Kharkiv with her daughter Eleanora, seven, but her husband Ivan, a surgeon, stayed behind.

Mrs Mamontova is hoping to move in with Si and Don Morris-Green and their two children at their home near Petersfield, Hampshire, after meeting on a Facebook group. The  Government has faced criticism for refusing to scrap all red tape for Ukrainians fleeing to Britain.

But a frontbencher told peers bogus refugees claiming to be Ukrainian have used false documents in a bid to enter the UK.Lord Sharpe of Epsom insisted it was right to keep a visa requirement in place despite calls to waive checks in line with other European countries.

The Tory whip said it keeps British citizens safe and also ensures help for the genuine.

“Security and biometric checks are a fundamental part of our visa process in order to keep people in this country safe and this is consistent with our approach to ­the evacuation of Afghanistan,” ­he said.

 “We are already seeing people presenting false documents claiming to be Ukrainians. This is a fluid and fast moving situation.”

More than three million people have fled Ukraine since the war began on February 24, the United Nations said yesterday. Filippo Grandi, head of the UN’s High Commission for Refugees, said: “We have passed another terrible milestone. Three million refugees have fled from Ukraine. The war has to stop. Now.”

The UN’s International Organ­isation for Migration said millions more were stuck or displaced within the country.

Its chief Antonio Vitorino said: “Three million lives uprooted. Three million women, children and vulnerable people separated from their loved ones.”

The vast majority of those are arriving in Poland, although other surrounding nations like Slovakia, Hungary and Romania have taken in desperate families.

The UN estimated up to four million could leave but admitted that might be revised upwards.

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