London

London man 'frustrated' after mishap puts his Ukrainian family's visa process in limbo

A London, Ont., man trying to bring his family members to Canada from Ukraine said their journey escaping from the war-torn country and getting to safety has been a long and frustrating one.

'The past one-and-half months has been the worst time in my life,' says Volodymyr Komarov

Volodymyr Komarov and his wife Olha Tymoshchuk are working desperately to bring their family members to Canada as soon as possible. (Submitted by Volodymyr Komarov)

A former London, Ont., man trying to bring his family members to Canada from Ukraine said their journey escaping the war-torn country and getting to safety has been a long and frustrating one. 

"The past one-and-half months has been the worst time in my life, even though I'm here, I feel so bad for what's happening back home. There's lots of anger and fear and I wake up feeling terrible everyday," said Volodymyr Komarov. 

Komarov and his wife Olha want to bring their mothers Leonora and Iryna, Komarov's sister Yuliia and her nine-year-old daughter Kateryna to Moncton, NB, where the couple has recently relocated to. 

The four are taking temporary shelter in Malaga, Spain, while they wait for their Canadian visas to be processed. But a mishap at a visa office in Madrid has left them in limbo with no word on when they can get on a flight to Canada. 

Komarov said everyone got their visas approved, except his niece Kateryna who shares her passport with her mom. Yuliia should've received two visas in her passport, but only her's was authorized. When she contacted the office, they told her they couldn't help because her forms were already processed and the only option she had was to start another application, which could take some more weeks. 

"I arranged everything. We got them tickets and they were supposed to arrive here by Friday but that's not going to happen, I don't know if the visa centre forgot about her or what," he said. 

"They told her they cannot help her and don't know what do because they're just a third party company, and the decision was made in Paris so I don't know where things went wrong."

He added that Yuliia and Kateryna have made three separate trips from Malaga to Madrid, which is about 530 kilometres one way, to clarify the error, only to get an email with a new passport submission form. Previous to that, the family went through a ten day journey from Ukraine, through Poland and Germany before finally arriving in Spain. 

Left to right: Yuliia Berestova, Kateryna Berestova, Leonora Komarova, and Iryna Tymoshchuk are waiting to be reunited with their family members in Moncton, New Brunswick (Submitted by Volodymyr Komarov)

Hometown in a bad shape

Komarov said the situation in his hometown of Dniprorudne, in southern Ukraine, is dire. He's heard stories of people being abducted and not being seen or heard from again. 

"They're [Russian military] searching for men who served in the army and it's very hard to get information from there, but I hope it's not the same atrocities that happened in Bucha and Kyiv because it's just so inhumane all the things that happened there," he said. 

Londoners, Olha Tymoshchuk and Volodymyr Komarov, are both concerned about their parents back in Ukraine. (James Chaarani/CBC)

His family's village is near the city of Enerhodar, where a nuclear plant was attacked by Russian forces in March. 

"I have great care about my hometown and yesterday someone sent a picture that Russians put their flag on top of our government building. It was such a hard thing to see," he added.

Although Komarov's father is over 60 and qualifies to leave Ukraine, he wants to stay back in his village, along with his 52-year-old father-in-law who cannot leave Ukraine yet, because men between the ages of 18 to 60 must stay back to fight in the military. 

In the meantime, Komarov hopes his family's visa situation is sorted out by next week so they can join him and his wife in their new home, and start a new chapter of their lives. 

"This war is just so horrible and I just hope I can bring them to Canada soon and provide them with a safe place so they can continue their lives, right now they're in a floating place," he said. 

With files from London Morning

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