More than 100 Ukrainians currently living in Bedford

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There are more Russian nationals in the town

More than 100 Ukrainians already live in Bedford, new figures show, as the refugee crisis in the country worsens.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the United Kingdom could accept more than 200,000 Ukrainian refugees, with the Home Office creating a family migration visa for those with immediate family in the UK.

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It means spouses or civil partners, unmarried partners who have lived together for at least two years, children, parents, grandparents and siblings of Ukrainian nationals living in the UK can enter with a visa.

In Bedford, there are roughly 130 Ukrainian residents and 140 Russian nationalsIn Bedford, there are roughly 130 Ukrainian residents and 140 Russian nationals
In Bedford, there are roughly 130 Ukrainian residents and 140 Russian nationals

In Bedford, there are roughly 130 Ukrainian residents, Office for National Statistics figures outline.

They are among 37,530 Ukrainians living in England and Wales.

The data, from the 2021 census, has been released early by the ONS to aid local authorities in emergency response planning.

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The figures also show that approximately 140 Russian nationals live in Bedford – among 53,120 in England and Wales.

The United Nations has said more than 1 million people have fled Ukraine, while the European Union ultimately expects to receive 4 million refugees in total, and several million more to be displaced internally.

The UK's response has been criticised by opposition parties and refugee charities, with calls to waive visas entirely.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said this would be unsafe, arguing that "security and biometric checks are a fundamental part of our visa approval process worldwide and will continue".

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Instead, Ms Patel announced a humanitarian sponsorship pathway, allowing individuals, businesses and other groups to sponsor Ukrainians' entry into the country.

However, the Refugee Council has said the Government must do more to help Ukrainians fleeing war.

"We are concerned that in reality it does not go far enough and could mean that far fewer Ukrainians are actually able to reach safety in the UK than the Government claims," said Enver Solomon, the Refugee Council chief executive.

He said: "A scheme offering humanitarian visas to Ukrainian families fleeing war and coming to the UK as refugees would be a far more effective way of offering sanctuary," and said the Government must work with the UN on a resettlement scheme and provide health, education and other services for Ukrainians when they arrive.

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Ms Patel has said the expanded scheme means "an additional 100,000 Ukrainians could be eligible to come to the UK and access work and public services," adding that there is no limit on the numbers eligible.

"These measures have been designed to enable swift implementation, and that is the point, without the need for legislation or changes to immigration rules," Ms Patel added on waiving visas.

"The Ukrainian people need help immediately and we are bringing this in place now."