Ukrainian refugees seeking to come to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme are being left in limbo after emails granting their applications went missing.
Tetiana Bilous, an HR professional, and her daughters, Zlata, aged 11, and nine-year-old Mariia, had waited more than two weeks for confirmation after being one of the first to apply on March 18 when the scheme opened.
Ms Bilous fled Bucha, the town north-west of Kyiv in which the Russians massacred civilians, in the early days of the war. She and her daughters sheltered in western Ukraine before travelling to a refugee centre in Bratislava, Slovakia. Her husband, Sviat, remains in Ukraine driving medical supplies.
Her sponsors in the UK, Hugh and Laura Colvin from Buckinghamshire, were told on Monday that her application had been approved and an email containing the necessary documentation to allow her to travel to the UK had been sent. However, it did not arrive.
When Mr Colvin, a finance manager, chased it up he was told it was not possible for it to be re-sent and the family could either lodge a complaint or resubmit their application, putting them at the back of a queue after they had already waited for 16 days.
It was only after The Telegraph intervened on Monday that officials recovered the email and sent it to Ms Bilous, enabling her to take a flight with her daughters to the UK on Wednesday. They will be staying in a two-bedroom cottage in the garden of the Colvins’ farmhouse.
“It was completely Kafkaesque,” said Mr Colvin. “The first option we were given to resolve the situation was to wait for a case worker to contact us. There is no case worker because the application has been decided.
“I challenged this as utterly nonsensical and the call handler confirmed that it was, but that was all the guidance they had to give.”