A WOMAN has spoken of her husband’s courageous decision to drive from the UK to the Polish border with Ukraine in order to bring her family to safety, only to be stalled by difficulties getting a visa back to the UK.

Alina Harland, originally from Ukraine but now living in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, was left an "emotional wreck" as her husband made the journey to the crisis-hit country.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, she described the gruelling three-day journey to help bring her family to safety - while also delivering care packages to those in need.

However, Mrs Harland continued to express her worry after her father and grandmother were left just 60 kilometres from Kyiv, after they chose to stay behind to do as much as they can to help.

The Northern Echo: Alina Harland Picture: IAN ALEXANDERAlina Harland Picture: IAN ALEXANDER

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Despite most of her family making it safely to the Polish/Ukraine border, they have been left in limbo as they struggle to get visas in order to come to the UK.

She stressed that the UK was not doing enough when it came to visas and the process of coming to England needed to be quicker.

She added that authorities were claiming it took 48 hours to get visas arranged for those coming to the UK but this was not the reality.

Mrs Harland added: “That’s another question, that’s another question they’re saying 48 hours here but I tell you what people who don’t have access to where to stay in Poland to go to the embassy, their documentation and applications are not even sorted yet, they don’t have anything like that.

“They don’t know where to sleep, they don’t know where to travel, it’s absolutely awful, my husband said he’s going to be screaming and crying in a minute to the people responsible for what’s happening.

“We need to push from this side to do something about it, to let them have a pre-access, why do they need application forms, check their passport, check their immigration forms and that’s it.”

Yesterday, Mary Foy criticised the government's policy when it comes to handing visas to Ukrainian nationals – branding its response as “tone deaf” and “staggeringly slow”.

Over the coming days, the government has announced that it expects the number of Ukrainians being granted visas to increase “very very quickly” after looking into both the family scheme and an additional sponsorship scheme.

City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy, is one of those that has hit out at the government’s role in housing Ukrainian refugees.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, she said: “The Government's plan to welcome Ukrainian refugees has been tone deaf and staggeringly slow, with ministers outlining vague or contradictory statements by the hour."

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The Northern Echo: Alina Harland's husband Rob and her family Svitlana, Alexander, Ruslana, Matthew, ElisaAlina Harland's husband Rob and her family Svitlana, Alexander, Ruslana, Matthew, Elisa

After they made it to the border, Mrs Harland’s father left his family there, after which they took a bus to the Polish border.

According to Mrs Harland, bus drivers were asking for money from people to take them to the border which shocked her.

She said: “My dad left them at the border and they had to go on a bus which they had to pay for, which I was shocked, people are taking a huge amount of money from people who basically don’t have any so some people couldn’t pay for the bus, they had to walk a lot.

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“Queues are unbelievable, there are 80-hour queues down there, so they spent half a day on the bus on the Ukrainian border and half a day on the Polish border."

The Northern Echo: Alina Harland's husband and her family of Svitlana, Alexander, Ruslana, Matthew and ElisaAlina Harland's husband and her family of Svitlana, Alexander, Ruslana, Matthew and Elisa

The care package of food, which Ms Harland gathered from her local Tesco in Thirsk, was used to help people fleeing to the border as much of the food had become abandoned or gone to skips and become “soaking wet.”

She added: “My husband made sure the people who are crossing the border got the care package, it was from our local Tesco in Thirsk.

“They are also arranging a welcoming care pack when they’re coming.”

Describing her family's journey to the border she said that they were all “terrified” but were trying not to show the kids.

She said: “The kid in my family who is nearly 13 years old was constantly looking out the windows at every noise on the journey.

The Northern Echo: The care package Rob Harland took with himThe care package Rob Harland took with him

“The three-year-old kid obviously didn’t realise what was happening and just wanted to go back because they just moved into a new flat.

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“The rest of the family were just terrified as well but they were trying not to show it to the kids.”


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