Saturday, March 25, 2023

Family members say prior military experience is causing problems for Ukrainians fleeing

Calgarian Angelina Tutyunik says her emergency travel application has been delayed by more than two months because of her grandfather’s experience in Soviet, Ukrainian forces

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Some Canadian Ukrainians are desperately trying to evacuate their elderly loved ones from war-torn Ukraine to safety in Canada, saying their relatives serving in the military decades ago are complicating applications for the government’s emergency travel program.

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Ottawa launched an accelerated emergency travel program in March to support Ukrainians fleeing their homeland, as Russia continues its attacks on the nation. At launch, the government billed the program as a quick and easy process for granting temporary residency to Ukrainians, allowing them to work, study and live in Canada as long as it is safe for them to return home. Don’t be

The government processed and approved more than 92,000 applications for the program between March 17 and May 11, and thousands have arrived in Canada, but thousands are still waiting – including the grandfather of a Ukraine-born Calgary woman. , who are blaming the delay on the complications it causes. His job as a mechanic in the military for the Soviet Union and Ukraine is about 30 years old.

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Angelina Tutyunnik’s grandparents, Boris and Lydia Lukianenko, have lived in Kyiv for most of their lives; He is in his 70s and does not speak English. Teutunik, who moved from Ukraine to Calgary about three years ago, caught the first flight when the program was announced, knowing that her grandparents would not be able to navigate the process alone.

Boris and Lydia traveled to Romania for more than 24 hours, mostly via train, to visit their granddaughter in a small town near the Ukrainian border. From there, the trio took another 15-hour train to Bucharest and began the process of applying for an emergency travel permit with the Canadian Embassy.

Boris And Lydia Lukianenko.
Boris and Lydia Lukianenko. Photo by Angelina Teutyunike

A few days later, Teutanyuk’s grandmother was approved to come to Canada, but his grandfather was not. The authorities requested another form for Boris outlining his military service.

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Again, they gathered the information and presented the document to the embassy. Nearly two months later, they are still waiting for a response from the Canadian government.

Boris was working as a mechanic, technician and engineer between 1967 and 1993, first for the Soviet Union and then for Ukraine after the former’s collapse in 1991.

“After that, he worked as a teacher for the next 25 years,” said Tutyunik.

An email sent from the embassy to Teutyunnik on 13 May confirmed that military service had been added to Borys’ documents, but that his application was still pending “additional verification”.

Tiutiunnyk stayed with her grandparents in Romania for as long as possible, returning after about six weeks because she feared she might lose her job and her life in Canada. Still, she says that the decision to leave her grandparents behind and move to another country “broke her heart.”

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While her grandparents are in safe custody, she said their stay in Romania is short-lived. His 90-day visa expires in a matter of weeks.

“In the best case scenario, my grandparents will be here in three weeks… If not, I will fly over there and bring them back to Ukraine,” she said.

Since coming home, she said she has reached out to a number of government officials, immigration lawyers and other resources, but since the application is still marked as active, neither confirmed nor denied, So getting help has become difficult.

“When they put you in the process, there’s nothing you can do,” she said.

But in her quest for aid, Tiutiunnyk manages to find other Ukrainian Canadians facing similar issues with the program.

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She is joined by Anna Brodno, a Ukrainian woman living in Toronto who helped her Kyiv-based uncles and aunts, Valery and Tetyanko Ponomarenko, fill out applications soon after the program started. Being pregnant, Brodno herself could not travel to Eastern Europe, but it took hours to translate the forms and make sure they were sent to the right places.

Ponomarenkos managed to find asylum in Austria, but Valerii’s application was blocked by a request for military service records, while Tetyanko was approved within days. Having run out of funds, Valery and his wife had to return to Kyiv. They are still waiting for the results of the application from the government even after two months of submitting the required form.

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“He’s 72 years old,” Brodno said, adding that his uncle had never been in combat during his time in the military. “What’s he supposed to do? He’s a retired man. He just wants to be in peace, doesn’t want to hear sirens all the time.

“I think they’re putting us (of the row) behind, and then they’ll tell us we’re not approved.”

Tiutiunnyk said she connected with several people on social media in similar circumstances. She is urging the government to do more to help with cases like Borys and Valery, saying there are likely people stranded in Ukraine, unable to find families in Canada because of their military records.

“They may just be forgotten,” she said.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not respond to a request from Postmedia about how military service records affect the application process for the emergency travel program.

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Last week, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced that three chartered flights from Poland would be available to some successful applicants. Those flights are bound for Winnipeg on May 23, Montreal on May 29, and Halifax on June 2.

“We’ve seen almost 92,000 approvals through the massive emergency program since the end of March and it’s being processed very quickly now, so I expect that number to continue to grow,” he told reporters last Wednesday. “

“It is difficult to predict where this is going to end because what we are hearing on the ground, there are a lot of people who are taking it out on speculative grounds, so to speak, monitoring the situation on the ground in Ukraine. To do, to find out if it’s something they need to take advantage of themselves.”

,With files from the Canadian Press

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