As the war in Ukraine continues, Prince Charles visited with refugees and asylum seekers at St. Luke’s Church, in London. There, he met with refugees from Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, and spoke about the need for refugees in the United Kingdom.
His visit was in support of the work of the Refugee Response program, which is run by the Anglican church Holy Trinity Brompton.
“I cannot even begin to imagine the dreadful conditions, the suffering, the agony you have all had to endure on your way to arrive here in this country,” Charles said, speaking in front of a poster that proclaimed “love your neighbor.”
“We have enormous skill shortages in this country, where so much of what you can do could be of enormous benefit,” the Prince of Wales added. “We are very lucky in many ways to have you and your skills and all you can bring.”
At St. Luke’s, Charles also met with Andriy and Veronika Kopylash, a Ukrainian father-daughter duo from Kyiv. Andriy, 55, was already in the UK when war broke out, and Veronika, 23, caught the last plane out of Ukraine to join her father.
“It was an absolute honor to meet [Prince Charles],” Andriy said after the event, according to the Telegraph. “He was very open and there were tears in his eyes from him. He said he had begun plans to do more to help refugees. He said the situation was terrible and described it as crazy and madness.”
More than 2 million Ukrainians have fled in just two weeks, according to the United Nations, with many more poised to become refugees soon. However, the UK is not making it easy for refugees to arrive. While the majority of Europe has allowed Ukrainians to enter without visas, the UK has required visas through a confusing application process.
According to the New York Times“the [UK] system has drawn criticism from aid groups, legal experts, families and other European leaders who say the British response is paltry in the face of such an enormous crisis. They cited the limited eligibility and an opaque and confusing visa application process for people ill equipped under the circumstances to deal with that level of bureaucratic red tape.”
Ukrainians on temporary visas are currently not allowed to invite their family members to join in Britain. As of March 9, only 750 visas have been granted to Ukrainians. That statistic makes Prince Charles’s comments forcefully in support of more surprising refugees, as members of the royal family do not typically comment on political matters.
“I keep praying for you,” he told the gathered refugees. “There are so many people wanting to help you and, as I say, I hope you feel welcome.”
“For me, it is an immeasurable tragedy that so much death and destruction exists around the world at this moment in time, leading to such utter misery for so many people who have to leave their countries like you have,” Charles said.
Last week, Prince Charles and Camilla paid a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London, and Charles has previously described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as “brutal aggression.”
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