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Orphans fleeing Ukraine in limbo

"The UK Government are still holding out on visas."

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By Sarah Ward via SWNS

A group of 50 orphans fleeing Ukraine is in limbo waiting to hear if they can enter the UK.

The children, aged from six to 17, left on March 8 from five orphanages in Ukraine's fourth-largest city Dnipro.

Margarita from Shevchenko Orphanage, Ukraine is in limbo. (Tom Maddick via SWNS)

Nine adults are accompanying them, and although they have flights to London arranged for Monday (March 21) they are in the dark about whether they will be able to go.

Hopes are high the kids will be able to go to Scotland, somewhere in the Central Belt including Loch Lomond, Argyll and Bute, or Edinburgh.

The UK Government has stalled on issuing visas for the children - none of whom have passports - and have claimed they wanted more information on safeguarding.

Media manager for charity Dnipro Kids Appeal, Duncan MacRae, 41, flew out on March 16 to Pozon in Poland.

The children are being housed at a hotel in Nzin, northern Poland, and are having a great time, with staff putting on the cinema for them, as well as opening up a play area.

Fifty Ukrainian orphans have been rescued and taken to safety in Znin, Poland but are now struggling to get to the UK. (SWNS)

Duncan is hopeful the kids and their accompanying adults will be able to fly out on Monday.

The charity was named twice during a debate with the British Prime Minister on March 16, but no progress has been made on getting the issue sorted.

The kids are from orphanages in Sobolygev, Shevechenko and Syvatkova.

Unlike children fleeing the refugee crisis in 2015, they are not classified as 'unaccompanied child asylum seekers.'

The children, aged from six to 17, left on March 8 from five orphanages in Dnipro and are now in limbo waiting for UK visas. (SWNS)

They are accommodated by four 'orphan moms' who treat the children as their own and will stay with them until the age of 18 or beyond.

Mom-of-two Natalie Radchenko, 38, has worked for the charity for 17 years.

Natalie made the decision to leave on March 6 and moved on March 8.

Despite the turmoil, the children are reported to be happy during their stay in a hotel.

She said: "Russian soldiers attacked a nuclear factory an hour from Npriro, that's when we realized it's time to run.

"When the Russian soldiers went to the nuclear facility that was when we realized we needed to go, on March 6.

"On March 8 we left the city.

"We left by train, it was two or three people in one bed.

"People were helping us on our escape, during the evacuation.

"They have had the cinema, bowling, they have been to play areas, people are surprised to see happy kids."

Duncan added: "We have been supporting six orphanages, and have been able to evacuate three of them.

"Some of the other children have not been able to evacuate, some of the children are too unwell to be moved.

"We are delighted to have got some of them out.

"The flights are organized but the paperwork hasn't been finalized.

"The UK Government are still holding out on visas.

"The kids have never been out of Ukraine, they have got no passports.

"These are not unaccompanied children, they are with carers.

"There are five orphanages and five orphanage moms;

"We have sourced accommodation for them in Scotland, we had a fantastic offering.

"We are trying to keep them in the Central Belt, in Edinburgh or Loch Lomond.

"It is possible we might be able to keep them all together.

"The safeguarding issues are not there.

"The excuse that they have given us for not making it possible so far just isn't valid.

"They have said we are keen to find out if there are people in the region, presumably he means countries bordering Ukraine.

They haven't contacted us to be in dialogue.

"It's the kids that need some certainty.

"The hotel stay ends at the end of the week.

"At least they are safe, they've not been able to leave Ukraine before.

"There's a little element of some of them that thinks it's an adventure.

"They are with their friends, it's good for them to all be together."

Duncan added: "We have already got a plan but we're not sure when that can potentially happen.

"We just need to make it happen."

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