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UK Security Chiefs Reportedly Warn Priti Patel Against 'Open-Door Policy' Toward Ukrainian Refugees

© AFP 2023 / LOUISA GOULIAMAKIRefugees queue as they wait for further transport at the Medyka border crossing, after crossing at the Ukrainian-Polish border, southeastern Poland on March 12, 2022
Refugees queue as they wait for further transport at the Medyka border crossing, after crossing at the Ukrainian-Polish border, southeastern Poland on March 12, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.03.2022
On Monday, the UN refugee agency revealed that almost 2.6 million civilians have fled Ukrainian territory since 24 February, when Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country.
The chiefs of the UK's MI5 and MI6 have warned Home Secretary Priti Patel against easing visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees, purportedly due to the risk they could include Daesh* militants and mafia-linked criminals, the Daily Mail reports.
The newspaper quoted unnamed senior intelligence sources as saying that "no one disputes that this is a humanitarian tragedy, and that 99.9 percent of the refugees [from Ukraine] are genuine".
The source, however, cautioned that the British government "cannot just allow a complete open-door policy", adding, "Ukraine is a melting pot at the moment, and we have already been presented with fake passports".

"People talk about Poland being 'more generous' than the UK but it's not that – their border has ceased to exist in any meaningful fashion, so we have to make sure we are not storing up problems for the future. The home secretary is right not to mount a knee-jerk response on emotional grounds. She has been put in a very difficult position", the insider argued.

They also advised against the Home Office's plans for an online visa system to receive Ukrainian refugees, asserting that such a system would be too vulnerable to hacking by alleged Russian security agents.
The claims come a few days after Patel told lawmakers in the Commons that the government plans to water down its rigid entry requirements for Ukrainian refugees.

"[…] In short, Ukrainians with passports will be able to get permission to come here fully online from wherever they are, and will be able to give their biometrics once in Britain", the home secretary said.

This followed Roger Gale, a senior lawmaker from the Conservative Party, accusing Patel of misleading the parliament over a visa application centre (VAC) for Ukrainian refugees she said her department was setting up in the French port of Calais.

"[…] This was untrue and under any normal administration that in itself would be a resignation matter", Gale pointed out, referring to Patel's previous remarks about the VAC.

She claimed in an address to MPs on Monday that "we have staff in Calais, we have support on the ground. It is wrong to say we're just turning people back, we're absolutely not, we're supporting those that have been coming to Calais".

Europe's 'Fastest Growing Refugee Crisis'

Earlier this week, UN estimates revealed that nearly 2.6 million refugees had fled Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in the country on 24 February. Neighbouring Poland has so far received the most refugees, with others travelling to Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, and Romania.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi argued that the current wave of those fleeing Ukraine is the "fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II".

Russia launched its special operation in Ukraine in order to demilitarise and de-Nazify the country, following a request for help from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, which saw weeks of intensifying shelling from the Ukrainian Army. The goal of the operation is to destroy Ukraine's military infrastructure with high-precision weapons, which do not target civilians, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.
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*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.
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