Ukraine-Russia: Teenage musician left in limbo at German hostel after waiting two months for visa to live in Scotland
Now the teenager and her mother Ludmila, whose home was destroyed in a missile attack at the start of the war, live in limbo in a student hostel in Germany – and could soon be sent in a refugee camp in France – after waiting almost two months for a visa to live in Scotland.
The family had been paired up under the Homes for Ukraine scheme with Fife resident Alex Black, who had planned to open up her home to them – and offer Ms Harus work in his family campervan rental business. cars.
However, despite applying for the scheme at the earliest possible opportunity in mid-March, the family have still not heard from the Home Office and are living in temporary accommodation in a hostel in Germany after being fled Ukraine ten weeks ago. Mrs. Harus’ husband remains in the war-torn country, where he works as a paramedic.
The couple did not apply to reside in Germany as they expected to visit Scotland – and are only allowed to stay in the country for a further two weeks. They were told they would be moved to a refugee camp in France, run by the Red Cross, in a few days.
Ms Black has been told by local politicians they have looked into the matter and the family’s visa is “under review”, but fears the application has been misplaced. She contacted Refugee Minister Neil Gray four times, but received no response.
Ms Black says: “Yesterday I was telling someone about it and I found myself completely in tears, because it’s someone else’s life, it’s not a game. I’m just out of resources. I don’t know what I can do. I talk to other people who have had their guest request approved in ten days.
“Violet texts me every day and I feel horribly responsible. I feel like I let them down, even though I know it has absolutely nothing to do with me. They could be set up somewhere else if we hadn’t.”
Ukraine-Russia: One in 20 Ukrainian refugees who fled war to the UK lives in Scotland…
Having signed up for the accommodation scheme the day it opened, Ms Black arranged everything for her guests, including a place at school for Violet and a job for her mother, who worked in Ukraine as a massage therapist. She has also set up a local networking group for Ukrainian newcomers near her home in Balmullo, near St Andrews.
“The school keeps asking me ‘what’s going on, when are they coming?'” she says.
“Violet missed what could have been a school term, where she could have met people her own age. Now, if they come, it will be time for exams and she won’t have that chance for a while.
“I started the networking group a very long time ago thinking I was going to be the first [in the area to host someone] and now I’m pretty much the only person whose guests haven’t arrived. It just doesn’t make sense. If there is something wrong with the application, if we have filled in something wrong, then they should just tell us. They’ve been thinking about it now for almost six weeks and to be honest, I think they’ve lost it.
The Harus family has been working hard to maintain some kind of normality since leaving Ukraine. They first fled to Poland and were taken to a gym in northern Germany, before being transferred to a hostel in Bavaria.
Ms Black says: “Violet’s school has managed to keep some sort of online teaching going, so she’s managed to do that. She’s taken her saxophone with her, as she goes to a specialist music academy in Kharkiv, and the saxophone and the piano are her instruments, she is obviously an accomplished young girl.
Although Violet speaks some English, her mother does not – and Ms Black has arranged for a friend of hers, an English teacher living in France, to give her lessons over Zoom.
She says, “Ludmila is taking lessons on Zoom three times a week with my friend and they are really working. The last time I was in contact with them Ludmila actually spoke to me in English which was amazing.
Mrs. Harus says she and her daughter get food in the inn.
She says: “I learn English in my spare time, but we live in a student residence. We are not registered [in Germany] because we are waiting for a visa [for Scotland]. The stay in Europe since our arrival on March 6 will soon end, it is very stressful.
Violet says she was able to work with a local music school to use a practice room for her saxophone, which she finds therapeutic – but she is looking forward to resuming her studies in Scotland as soon as possible.
She says, “They provided a free classroom, where I play the saxophone. I also study online in my school in Kharkiv. I love music since childhood, so I want to connect my life with my creativity in the future. Now, with the help of music, I am distracted from all the problems.
The Scottish Government and Home Office have both been contacted for comment.
Details of the case have emerged as UK government figures show more than 50,000 refugees have arrived in the UK under Ukrainian visa schemes.
Some 53,800 Ukrainian refugees had arrived under the family program and the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship program as of Monday, the data showed.
Some 107,400 visas have been granted under the two programs, meaning just over half of those granted visas have arrived.