Two young Ukrainian women trying to reach safety in Scotland have faced people traffickers and are fearing for their lives while they await refuge in Kinross.
Sisters Anastasiia and Dasha Nitskevych, age 23 and 17, fled their home town of Irpin, near Kyiv, which has been flattened in the ongoing invasion by Russia.
Under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, they were paired up with Sally Jenkins from Carnbo, near Kinross, but two months later only Anastasiia’s visa has been approved.
As Anastasiia and Dasha’s parents work in the army and nursing, they have had to stay in Ukraine to support the fight.
The sisters have made it to Germany and are waiting there until they can travel to the UK but their lives have been at risk countless times during the journey.
Targeted by people traffickers
Mum-of-six Sally said she is desperate to provide a safe home for the young women.
But she said there has been “no communication” from the Home Office about what she needs to do for Dasha’s visa to be approved.
Sally said: “Their mum got them to the Polish border for safety but then they were targeted by people traffickers in Poland.
“They were moved to an-all male house in Germany with six men.
“They are 23 and 17 years old, don’t speak a word of German and were put at risk.
“Four other men then moved in.
“They had to barricade their door at night as they didn’t feel safe.
“It is totally unacceptable.”
The sisters have since been able to move in with three other women and are desperately hoping for news of their parents’ safety.
“They are waking up each day not knowing if their parents are still alive,” Sally added.
In the UK, those wanting to offer their home to people fleeing Ukraine can apply for the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Ukrainians can then live and work in the UK for up to three years and access healthcare, education and employment support.
She is frightened, scared and doesn’t want to live anymore
Care home manager Sally has arranged a job for Anastasiia and a school place for Dasha but says she has no idea how to help them get to Scotland.
“I just feel so awful for them,” she said.
“The girls are so worried and their parents are equally as worried about them.
“I spoke to Dasha the other day and she said her anxiety is through the roof.
“She said she is frightened, scared and doesn’t want to live any more which is horrible and not something a 17-year-old should say.
“Anastasiia studied as an architect and said she wants to go back to her country to help rebuild it.
“They really are incredible girls.
“I feel like they’re my own daughters.
“They’ve started calling me their second mum. I just want to bring them to safety – I promised I will get them here.”
Sally said she has made more than 200 phone calls trying to sort out the vias, including to her local MP.
“We put all the information in and haven’t heard anything back,” she said.
“We could wait months for any form of communication from the Home Office.
“There has been no communication. The girls have been in so much danger throughout their trip.
“We’ve had to get lawyers in Germany to make sure they are safe.
“We’ve tried asking what is wrong with the application but they won’t tell us.
“They don’t seem interested at all. Where is the humanity?”
Around 800 Ukrainian refugees are waiting for visas after applying within the first two weeks of the Homes for Ukraine scheme opening.
The UK Government did not respond to a request for comment.