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A British lawmaker has taken in a Ukrainian family of three under the United Kingdom’s initiative to sponsor and house those fleeing Russia’s invasion.
Robert Jenrick, a member of parliament representing Newark, told the Telegraph that he picked up Maria, 40, and her two children, Boden, 15, and Cristina, 11, on Monday night.
The family had to wait for seven hours at Ukraine’s border with Poland to be allowed to fly to England, among other “harrowing” experiences, he said, and they are now living with Jenrick and his family in their home in Nottinghamshire.
Jenrick, who British media reported was the first lawmaker to take in Ukrainian refugees under the Homes for Ukraine initiative — though others have expressed an interest in doing so — said it has been “quite a humbling experience.”
“It’s a constant reminder of how fortunate we are to live in this country, to have the privileges that we do, and I think that for me, my wife and our kids, it will make us a little bit less selfish and a bit more grateful for what we all have.”
The former housing secretary said it took about three weeks to secure a visa for Maria and her children under the initiative, which has been criticized for its red tape and long delays, as well as for putting the onus on individuals to volunteer to sponsor refugees.
Jenrick acknowledged the program has had “a bumpy start” but said the process has already improved. Going through it as a sponsor, he added, convinced him that “there are limits to the role of the state, and as a country we have so much to offer when individuals and civil society come together.”
Overall, 56,500 visas were granted under this and another program called the Ukraine Family Scheme, and 16,400 people have arrived in the country.