Charles tells Ukrainian and Afghan refugees the UK is ‘lucky to have you’

Written by on March 10, 2022

The Prince of Wales has told refugees from countries including Ukraine and Afghanistan that the UK is “lucky to have you”.

Charles visited the Refugee Response programme, run by the Anglican church Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) and held at St Luke’s Church in Earl’s Court, west London on Wednesday.

The prince spoke to several groups of refugees, including women taking part in sewing activities, children doing arts and crafts, people taking language lessons and others attending employability clinics.

In a speech he lamented the “immeasurable tragedy” of death and destruction occurring in conflict zones around the world at the moment.

Charles also told the refugees that the UK is “lucky to have you and your skills and all you can bring” especially in light of “enormous skill shortages”.

He said: “If I may say so, I cannot even begin to imagine the dreadful conditions, the suffering, the agony you have all had to endure on your way to arrive here in this country.

“The fact that there are people here to help you learn English, to find your way through the inevitable difficulties that there are, is I hope something that will make a difference to your lives.”

Having met refugees in the employability clinics who were doctors, engineers and translators in their home countries, Charles said: “I know so many of you already have qualifications and training in your own countries and we have enormous skill shortages in this country where so much of what you do can be of enormous benefit to us.

“So we are very lucky to have you and your skills and all you can bring.”

After talking about his previous visits to Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, Charles said: “I’ve always wanted, all my life, to visit Syria and Yemen – and now so much has been destroyed by these terrifying wars and conflicts.

“For me, it is an immeasurable tragedy that so much death and destruction exists around the world at this moment in time, leading to such utter misery for so many people who have to leave their countries like you have.”

Charles added that the situation “seems even more insane” in light of the global climate emergency.

During the visit Charles also met with Ukrainian refugee Andriy Kopylash, 55, and his daughter Veronika, 23, who spoke about their recent journeys to the UK.

Mr Kopylash, the Ukrainian director for the Alpha Christianity programme, said he came to Britain on a sabbatical in September following the death of both his parents and his wife.

Freedom is not for free and our nation is paying a very, very huge price for it.

Andriy Kopylash
As the situation grew increasingly tense in February, Mr Kopylash said he urged his daughter, who was already planning to fly to the UK for a two-week trip in March, to leave immediately.

His daughter got the last flight out on February 23 – a day before Russia invaded Ukraine – and she landed in Italy before travelling to the UK.

Mr Kopylash told Charles: “Freedom is not for free and our nation is paying a very, very huge price for it.”

The prince replied: “I cannot bear all this death and destruction. It is terrible.”

Mr Kopylash also told him about how his sister has stayed in Ukraine where she is trying to sew military nets to try and help out the army.

“She really appreciates the support by the British government and British Crown,” he said.

Mr Kopylash, whose son is also in the UK, told PA news agency: “I’m happy with my family here.”

His daughter described how she did not want to leave Ukraine, saying: “On February 23, we were living our ordinary life.

“I did not want to go, I had a seat on a flight in March and I had already planned my trip.”

On finding out, after arriving in Italy, that the invasion had begun, she said: “I was so shocked and frustrated. I said “no, it can’t be true”.

She added that she hopes “the war will end soon because I already have homesickness”.

Charles also spoke to refugees from countries including Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

One woman asked him, through a translator, if he would be able to bring her family members – her sister, brother and parents – from Afghanistan to the UK.”

“Are they having terrible difficulties?” the prince asked, to which the translator replied “Yes.

“The whole situation is terrible,” he said.

HTB’s Refugee Response was launched in September 2021 as London sought to welcome hundreds of Afghan arrivals fleeing the Taliban.

In December 2021, the Prince attended an advent service at HTB’s Onslow Square site where he also met representatives of the church’s community groups including the Refugee Response programme.

EveningStandard


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