Priti Patel warns of Russian agents posing as Ukrainian refugees to infiltrate ...

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TV star Amanda Holden has expressed her frustration with the UK government and home secretary Priti Patel over their handling of Ukrainian refugees attempting to enter the UK.

The radio presenter has launched a new podcast series called Ukraine’s Hidden Voices, for which she visited a refugee camp in Medyka, Poland, and spoke to families fleeing the war.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Holden described the lengthy and complicated process of entering the UK as a refugee as “utterly ridiculous”.

On the home secretary, Holden said: “So, you know, Priti Patel’s winning, we’re not going to be getting many people coming into our country, despite the fact 150,000 people have volunteered to open up their homes.

“So I felt quite cross about that.”

Speaking about the paperwork refugees must complete prior to being granted entry to the UK, Holden said: “We’re all British, we were having a look, you know, my team and I were all looking through the paperwork going ‘you’d have a job to fill out these forms’, and we are British, so it is an absolutely appalling situation.”

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She added: “But obviously, she doesn’t want immigrants does she, Priti?”

Holden caveated her comments, saying: “I’m not political, but it’s made me really cross.”

She previously explained that her motivation for launching her podcast originally came from an Instagram message she received from a mother in Ukraine who had been sheltering in a car park in Kyiv.

Later on, she and her producers at Heart decided to create a podcast to encourage Ukrainians to tell their own story in their own words.

She explained: “The reason I went out there was because there was an American volunteer that we spoke to on our podcast who said ‘I should go out there and see it for myself’ and I thought do you know what, I’m talking to these people who are clearly distressed, very displaced, bewildered by the entire situation, from the comfort of Heart’s studios and I should just go out there really and see it for myself and then that’s exactly what I did.”

The mother she initially spoke to thankfully made it out of Kyiv safely, and is now in Romania.

On her return to the UK, Holden said she spoke candidly to her two daughters about the trip.

“I just came home and I said to my own children, I can’t imagine what you and I would pack into a bag, how we would feel about leaving daddy behind, and then have to make a snap decision about what country we then want to go and live in,” she said.

She added: “I mean, it’s just a horrendous situation for them all.”

In a statement, a government spokesperson said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and the changes we’ve made to the visa process are making it quicker and simpler for Ukrainians to come here, as well as ensuring those already here can stay.

“Valid passport holders no longer have to attend in-person appointments to submit fingerprints or facial verification, and we have also expanded capacity at our visa application centres to 13,000 appointments per week across Europe to help those without their documentation.

“We have also gone further to launch a bespoke Homes for Ukraine scheme, drawing on the enormous goodwill of the British public and our proud history of supporting the vulnerable in their hour of need which will allow Ukrainians without family ties to come to the UK.”

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.

  • To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here.
  • To sign the petition click here.
  • If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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