Ukrainian woman in UK reunited with her children after husband rescued them from war zone | Ukraine

A Ukrainian woman is happily reunited with two of her children after her husband rescued them from a war zone, where they had taken refuge in a cellar.

Tetiana Hil, 36, said it was the worst day of her life when she had to leave her children Maksym, 17, and Alina, 10, in Ukraine so she could work in the UK for pay for the life-saving heart surgery Maksym needed. He had heart problems since birth and this was his third surgery.

Her relationship with the children’s biological father had broken down and the couple divorced. While working in the UK, she met and later married Adil Arslan, 43, a British citizen, and the couple attempted to bring Maksym and Alina to the UK to join the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Stefani.

The children were cared for in Ukraine by Hil’s parents, Mykhailo Kulchytski and Stefaniia Kulchytska, in the village of Teklivka, about 40 km from Ternopil in western Ukraine.

But the Interior Ministry refused permission for the children to come. Officials wrote a letter to Alina, who does not speak English, on November 1 last year, saying: “To prove that you are related to your godmother (mother), as you claim, you have submitted your certificate of birth. Please provide additional evidence to show that you are related to your sponsor as indicated. »

She was also asked to send officials a description of her biological father’s involvement in her life. The family says there has been no contact since 2016.

After the Interior Ministry’s refusal, an appeal was filed by the family’s lawyers, which was to be heard on March 22.

In the denial letter, government officials wrote that Hil had not satisfactorily demonstrated that she was solely responsible for her children and that there were no “exceptional circumstances in the appellants’ cases who result in unwarranted consequences for the rejection of applications”.

Despite the Interior Ministry’s refusal to grant the children a visa, Arslan said he was determined to save the children as soon as Russia invaded Ukraine.

“Tetiana cried day and night about the danger to children in Ukraine. She couldn’t go herself because she had to look after three-year-old Stefani, so I said I would go get them,’ he said.

After 20 hours on the road, he arrived at the Polish-Ukrainian border and picked everyone up. He took the family to the visa processing center in Brussels and after a few days the authorities agreed to cancel the visa application denial for the two children. Arslan traveled back and forth between Calais and Brussels to complete the process and was finally able to reunite the two children with their mother in the early hours of Friday morning.

But the children’s grandparents’ visa had not arrived. That morning, after squeezing out a few hours of sleep in the UK, Arslan returned to Brussels to pick up his in-laws after the visas had been issued. He said his marathon run of around 3,000 miles (4,800 km) in five days was worth it “to see the smiles on everyone’s faces”.

“We are happy, happy, happy now,” said Hil, who moved to the UK in 2018. “At last our family can be together and safe from this terrible war in my country. the sky here is different from the sky in Ukraine because there are no bombs falling from it.

“I am so upset that the Home Office did not allow my children to join us before the war started. We did everything right with the application and sent a lot of documents. If they had granted permission when we asked for it, my children could have avoided the war and not have had to witness the bombings and the sirens.

“They spent a lot of time after the war started hiding in the basement with my parents where we store the potatoes and carrots we grow. There is not much air there, but the children were afraid to go out.

A government spokesman said he would not comment on the matter, but said: “We stand with Ukrainians, that’s why we made it easier for Ukrainian passport holders to come here.”

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