Immediate family members will be able to join Ukrainians in UK, PM announces

The move comes after the Government faced intense criticism over failing to relax the visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London (Jamie Lorriman/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London (Jamie Lorriman/PA)

Boris Johnson has announced that immediate family members will be able to join Ukrainians settled in the UK as they flee the Russian invasion.

The move comes after the Government faced intense criticism over failing to relax the visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals earlier this week.

In a statement on Sunday, Downing Street said the measure will “benefit many thousands of people who at this moment are making desperate choices about their future”.

Number 10 also announced that a further £40m of humanitarian aid will be sent to Ukraine to help aid agencies provide necessities and medical supplies in Ukraine and Government humanitarian experts will be deployed to the region to support refugees fleeing the violence.

The Prime Minister said: “In the last days the world has witnessed awe-inspiring displays of bravery and heroism from the Ukrainian people in response to those who seek to obliterate their freedom by force.

We will be very generous to the Ukrainians.

Boris Johnson

“The UK will not turn our backs in Ukraine’s hour of need. We are providing all the economic and military support we can to help those Ukrainians risking everything to protect their country.”

The announcement followed a call between Mr Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier on Sunday, in which the Ukrainian President said the need for humanitarian assistance was critical.

Mr Johnson also met Ukrainian community leaders at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Mayfair, London, in the evening where he was asked if the UK was going to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to move here.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) lights a candle during a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Holy Family of London (PA/Jamie Lorriman)

He said: “We want to be as generous as we possibly can, and certainly we want people who have relatives in Ukraine to be able to bring them over as fast as possible.

“We want to make sure that we have routes for people fleeing disaster, war, persecution in Ukraine to come here and we’re setting aside more to help with the humanitarian crisis in the countries bordering Ukraine, putting another £40 million for medical supplies and immediate help.”

“We will be very generous to the Ukrainians,” he later added.

Pressed on what he means by “very generous” and asked how many people would be accepted, Mr Johnson said: “Well, we will have a system that lets people come when they’re in fear of persecution when they need to… for family reunion or other purposes.”

Labour welcomed the move but added that it “should have happened days ago” and called to see the details of the policy “as soon as possible”.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This is a welcome first step forward and should have happened days ago as too many desperate family members have been struggling and delays have been deeply damaging.

“We hope this announcement includes wider family as well as just the closest relatives and it is vital that we see those details as soon as possible.

“Now, the Government should also work with European countries on a wider sanctuary arrangement so the UK can also do its bit alongside others to help Ukraine.”

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