Ukrainian refugees hoping for better life in UK are put up in ‘horror’ French hotel

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Desperate Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK are being accommodated in a shabby, ‘horror’ hotel normally used to house the homeless and drug addicts – just when they thought life couldn’t get any worse after escaping from their home. war-torn country.

As death and destruction ravaged their nation, about 50 beleaguered Ukrainians faced more misery after arriving at the Lemon Hotel in the town of Tourcoing, which even local officials described as “one of the worst” in northern France.

Rooms cost around £25 a night and the hotel only has cramped communal showers and toilets.

It is normally used to house what officials from Tourcoing local authorities called “people with social problems” and described them as homeless people, drug addicts and people “not able to live in the community”.

Red Cross volunteers help Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK when they arrive in Northern France

Red Cross volunteers help Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK when they arrive in Northern France

About 50 beleaguered Ukrainians faced more misery after arriving at the Lemon Hotel in the city of Tourcoing

About 50 beleaguered Ukrainians faced more misery after arriving at the Lemon Hotel in the city of Tourcoing

About 50 beleaguered Ukrainians faced more misery after arriving at the Lemon Hotel in the city of Tourcoing

The hotel is normally used to house what the local authorities of Tourcoing called 'people with social problems'

The hotel is normally used to house what the local authorities of Tourcoing called 'people with social problems'

The hotel is normally used to house what the local authorities of Tourcoing called ‘people with social problems’

Ukrainians, many of them elderly, disabled or with young children, sighed in disappointment and looked on in horror as they got off the bus taking them from Calais when they came face to face with their temporary new home.

Paint was peeling from the shabby exterior, trash piled up next to the front door while a large flower pot was filled with cigarette butts.

They were met by volunteers from the Red Cross and local Tourcoing authorities who helped them to their rooms.

The Ukrainians were taken from Calais to Tourcoing due to its proximity to Lille, where a temporary visa application center will be opened tomorrow by British officials.

Jean Marie Vuylsteck, chief executive of the Tourcoing council, told MailOnline: “The hotel is not great. We normally use it to temporarily house the homeless, drug addicts or people with mental health problems. It is really meant for those who cannot live normally within the community.

‘But what can we do? In the end, it’s still better than being in a war-torn country. My heart goes out to these people. It’s the British government that should help them, because that’s the country they want to go to.’

The cost of the Ukrainians’ stay is borne by the French national government.

Mr Vuylsteck added: ‘I am relieved that a visa application center is opening in Lille, but this should have happened much sooner. I could say a lot about how the British behaved, but I won’t.’

Families arrive at the hotel in northern France after traveling from Ukraine

Families arrive at the hotel in northern France after traveling from Ukraine

Families arrive at the hotel in northern France after traveling from Ukraine

The Ukrainians were taken from Calais to Tourcoing due to its proximity to Lille, where a temporary center for visa applications from British officials will open tomorrow

The Ukrainians were taken from Calais to Tourcoing due to its proximity to Lille, where a temporary center for visa applications from British officials will open tomorrow

The Ukrainians were taken from Calais to Tourcoing due to its proximity to Lille, where a temporary center for visa applications from British officials will open tomorrow

Rooms cost around £25 a night and the hotel only has cramped communal showers and toilets

Rooms cost around £25 a night and the hotel only has cramped communal showers and toilets

Rooms cost around £25 a night and the hotel only has cramped communal showers and toilets

Ukrainian families arrive at hotel in Tourcoing town described by officials as 'one of the worst' in northern France

Ukrainian families arrive at hotel in Tourcoing town described by officials as 'one of the worst' in northern France

Ukrainian families arrive at hotel in Tourcoing town described by officials as ‘one of the worst’ in northern France

Police officers help Ukrainian refugees arrive in northern France

Police officers help Ukrainian refugees arrive in northern France

Police officers help Ukrainian refugees arrive in northern France

According to officials in Calais, 638 Ukrainians arrived in the city in search of Britain. Just under half have reached the country, while the rest are still waiting in France for their documents to be processed.

Apart from those transported to Tourcoing, others were transported to Paris or Brussels to apply for visas.

Dozens of others were said to have been rejected because they did not meet the criteria for obtaining visas, which are only given to those with relatives or a sponsor in Britain.

Olena, a refugee who had emerged from her room at the Lemon Hotel, shrugged: “To say it’s disgusting would be an understatement. The room is not very clean, it is very small and does not even have its own toilet or shower.

“I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I really expected something better than this. It feels quite depressing to stay here and I only got to the hotel about 20 minutes ago. But at least we’re safe and away from the war.’

Nina, who arrived at the hotel with her six-year-old daughter, said: “My heart sank when I saw it, but I’m glad we’re not in Ukraine. The rooms inside are small and not very clean. I hope my visa is processed very soon so that I can go to UK and join my family. I can’t live here long because it’s too depressing.’

The Interior Ministry revealed that the visa application center in Lille is only for Ukrainians who have an appointment after being referred by border police officials.

They also provide free transport for the Ukrainians who are still in Calais and who cannot get to Lille on their own.

A spokesperson added: ‘The UK is standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine and we have taken urgent action to quickly process visas for all those eligible for the Ukraine Family Scheme, while carrying out key security checks.

“In light of the risk of criminals operating in the area around Calais, we have set up a new temporary visa application center in Lille, opening tomorrow, aimed solely at referrals for people in the area who are eligible for the scheme .’

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