Traumatic before-and-after photo of 5-year-old girl shows full horror of war in Ukraine


Refugee children who have fled Ukraine are suffering from mental health issues and illnesses as they are forced to wait weeks for their UK visas to arrive, families claim

Miraslava at Christmas before the start of the war, left and in a Polish hospital during the invasion

Photos of a little girl taken before Russia invaded Ukraine and during the war show how a long wait for a British visa can hurt a child fleeing the war-torn nation

Mum Anastasia, 28, says her five-year-old Miraslava fell ill in a Polish refugee camp when she was so stressed she started having seizures as she feared she was suffering from PTSD.

In the first photo, the youngster stands happily next to a Christmas tree, but the second image is a dark contrast of Miraslava pale and weak, she lies in a hospital bed in Poland.

Worried families have previously claimed that young refugees fleeing Ukraine were suffering from mental health issues and illness as they were forced to wait weeks for their UK visas to arrive.

The Red Cross is now calling on the UK government to ‘temporarily stop the need for visas for those fleeing Ukraine’ as other countries have done, with security checks carried out on arrival.

Miraslava at Christmas before the start of the war

A happier Miraslava before the war

Retired Kent therapist Chris Katsis, 67, is sponsoring the mother and Mira, her two-year-old brother Danil, and their grandmother Yelzaveta, 51, through the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The family applied on March 22 and last week finally received their visas but have yet to collect their travel authorization letters.

Now they are worried after allegations suggesting that 29 refugees who turned up at the British Embassy in Warsaw were turned away without papers despite being told by email that they were ready.

Anastasia and Miraslava before the war

Five-year-old Miraslava is pictured ill in hospital after waiting for a move to the UK

Chris said: ‘I was terrified and thought this family might die waiting.

“Seeing Anastasia on a video conference, sitting on a bed in tears, completely desperate and seeing her daughter Mira so ill, is something you never want to see.

“I know people have died in these camps, this delay is costing lives.”

Miraslava on the train to Poland

Danil likes to play before the war

Anastasia added: “I went to the hospital with Mira on Saturday because I was so worried but I think my kids will recover when we leave this place.”

Jonny Hoare and his wife, who live in the stately home of Rauceby Hall in Lincolnshire, have previously hosted a family at their stately home in Lincolnshire, but are now trying to help Alena, mum-of-four.

She said: ‘We managed to escape on March 7 and then had an exhausting journey through Poland to the Netherlands which took over a week.

“But now it’s already the sixth week since I applied (in the UK). We’ve got them all except mine.

Danil before the war broke out

A much happier Danil at Christmas

“This delay definitely makes everything more difficult. Children have to adapt and adapt again.

“My eldest daughter is like, ‘Mom, I want to go to school, I want to make friends, but I don’t want to bond here because I know we’re going to leave.

“It’s torturous and so painful to hear that from a teenager.”

Mum Gina Booth, 46, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, said it had been a “nightmare” trying to bring her foster family to the UK.

Eight-year-old Yehor’s travel permit arrived three weeks ago, but mum Evgeniia and her 18-year-old sister Mariia are still waiting as they live together in a one-bedroom hostel.

Miraslava and Dani asleep on the train platform upon their arrival in Poland

Gina said: “They are going through traumatic stress right now.

“The son was very upset and they need to calm down. They text me constantly all day every day. They put my life in my hands.

Levgeniia told the Mirror: “We have been waiting for a visa for almost 50 days since March 18.

“During this time we had to change countries. From Ukraine we went to Romania, then volunteers took us through Hungary and Austria to Germany and then France.

Levgeniia and the children Mariia and Yehor

“It is a great stress for the child. I’m afraid he needs rehab and work with a psychologist.”

Hayley Timson, 47, from Southwater, West Sussex, and her partner Heather, 48, gave their home to mum Kateryna, 36, baby Denys, Anastasiia, 11, and grandmother Hanna, 59, a few years ago weeks, but the family is still waiting in Poland.

“It’s disgraceful and a disgrace.” Hayley said.

“This baby was born six weeks ago and has not yet been seen by a hospital.

Levgeniia and children Mariia and Yehor at Christmas

“This new mum has just been told that she now needs biometric tests which means traveling for four hours, three times with her two children. This is creating intolerable stress for each of them, especially for the children.

Alex Fraser, Director of Refugee Assistance and Restoring Family Links at the Red Cross, said: “The whole process is taking way too long.

“We are seeing an increasing number of calls to our helpline from Ukrainians who are struggling to get money and accommodation, and from British families desperate to help but are blocked by the system.”

A government spokesman said ‘the UK is on the front line in supporting those fleeing Ukraine following Putin’s unprovoked attack’ and that they are supporting people as ‘as fast as possible”.

The spokesperson added: “In response to Putin’s barbaric invasion, we have launched one of the fastest and largest visa programs in UK history.

“In just six weeks, nearly 72,000 visas have been issued for Ukrainians to live and work in the UK.

“The changes made by the Home Office to streamline the visa system, including simplifying forms and increasing staff, are working and we are now processing visas as quickly as they arrive, allowing thousands of additional Ukrainians to travel through our uncapped routes.”

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