Mercy flight to bring 52 Ukrainian orphans to UK delayed due to ‘bureaucracy’

A MERCY flight to bring 52 Ukrainian orphans to the UK was delayed yesterday due to a ”bureaucratic nightmare”.

The children, aged between two and 19, were expected to fly from Warsaw, Poland, on a specially chartered flight as part of the so-called Project Light.

A mercy flight to bring 52 Ukrainian orphans to the UK was delayed due to a 'bureaucratic nightmare'

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A mercy flight to bring 52 Ukrainian orphans to the UK was delayed due to a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’Credit: SWNS The children, aged between two and 19, were expected to fly from Poland on a specially chartered flight as part of the so-called Project Light

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The children, aged between two and 19, were expected to fly from Poland on a specially chartered flight as part of the so-called Project LightCredit: SWNS

TV star Rob Rinder, who was recently in the Polish capital assisting the Ukrainian relatives of his Strictly dance partner Oksana Platero, was due to return yesterday on board the Virgin flight and help coordinate bringing the orphans to the UK.

But the final identity and safeguarding checks had not been completed by the Ukrainian and Polish authorities.

Rinder blasted the hold-up, saying: “We’re in the midst of a bureaucratic nightmare.”

He added: “It says something that Pen Farthing could airlift 200 pets (I love my dog) from Kabul but we are stuck on the ground (probably unable to fly today) to rescue 52 orphaned kids because of paperwork.

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“One signature! Hopefully tomorrow.”

The children are from five different orphanages in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, where they live in family groups with their legal guardians.

They were evacuated by Scottish charity Dnipro Kids and Save A Child Global Paediatric Network.

Last night, they and their seven legal guardians, had found temporary accommodation in Warsaw.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “It is deeply troubling that these children have been caught up in Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

“It is right that we only move these children once we have the full written agreement of their home and host governments.

“The Home Secretary and her counterparts in the Ukrainian, Polish and Scottish Government are united in their determination to ensure these children get the support and care they need.”

Ian Blackford, SNP Westminster leader, who fought for the UK government to grant access for the group, told reporters: “While it’s disappointing that we’re still here waiting to depart for Warsaw, we’ve been up against a race against time to get the paperwork that needs to be in place and there’s been a delay on that.

“We will do everything we can, working with others to make sure we can get the children to safety as soon as practically possible.”

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A spokesperson for Project Light said: “The group are currently being taken care of at a hotel in Poland and are safe and well.

“All the parties involved in this mission are working hard to bring them to the UK in the coming days.”

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