A new visa program in the United Kingdom matching Ukrainian refugees with hosts to sponsor their visas has been labeled "dangerous" due to the lack of safeguards in place.

Men, some with a history of violence, are using the Homes for Ukraine scheme to host or reach out to Ukrainian women, and other refugees are finding themselves homeless after arriving in the U.K., according to a report from the BBC.

In some areas, as many as 30% of all registered sponsors in the U.K. are single men over the age of 40, the majority of whom are hosting single women in their 20s or 30s, a source with knowledge of the situation told the outlet.


In a Facebook group created to match Ukrainian refugees with sponsors, one man offered to host several young women despite appearing to live in a one-bedroom flat, the report found. Other cases showed similar trends of men offering their rooms to young, single, Ukrainian women, despite some of the would-be hosts having records of domestic abuse.

Other Ukrainian refugees who have been approved through the scheme for visas have wound up homeless as hosts fall through or accommodations prove unlivable.

Teresa Ferguson, who lives in Cumbria and had applied to sponsor a Ukrainian couple, criticized the lack of guidance.

"The system lends itself to exploitation," Ferguson told Euronews. "There are worries about people using fake identities, and I don't like how Ukrainians have to market themselves online."

Robina Qureshi, head of nonprofit group Positive Action in Housing, the U.K.'s longest established refugee-hosting program, said she was "shocked by the absence of safeguarding checks." The report's findings are "deeply concerning and undermine the sponsorship program," Qureshi said, calling the scheme "dangerous."

Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said it was "aware of increasing reports of Ukrainian women feeling at risk from their sponsors."

"UNHCR believes that a more appropriate matching process could be put in place by ensuring that women and women with children are matched with families or couples, rather than with single men," the organization said. "Matching done without the appropriate oversight may lead to increasing the risks women may face, in addition to the trauma of displacement, family separation and violence already experienced."

The British government has claimed there are safeguards in place already. All sponsors and adults within the sponsor's households are required to pass an initial Police National Computer, criminal records, and Warnings Index check by the government.


Guidelines to become a sponsor are described as "anything from an empty room to an unoccupied home as long as it's safe, heated and free of health hazards." There are some stipulations in place, including passing background checks.

There is no cap on the number of refugees accepted through the visa program, which began in March. Sponsors receive 350 pounds per month for up to 12 months from the government as a show of gratitude for offering their space for free.