Robert Rinder warns history is ‘repeating itself’ as refugees flee Ukraine

The barrister and TV judge was speaking from Przemysl, a Polish city on the border with Ukraine.

15 March 2022

Robert Rinder warned that history is “repeating itself” as he reported from Poland’s border with Ukraine.

The barrister and TV judge has travelled to eastern Europe in a bid to help the grandparents of Oksana Platero, his former professional partner on Strictly Come Dancing, safely cross the border.

Speaking from the town of Przemysl, the 43-year-old challenged the speed at which the UK Government is processing applicants fleeing Ukraine.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain via video-link that he and his translator had both struggled to complete an online form required at the border from those fleeing the conflict.

He said: “People should know what happened in the past or we’re doomed to repeat it. I can tell GMB viewers and you that it is repeating itself.

“It’s hard to believe, Susanna (Reid) and Richard (Madeley), that this is 2022.

“The trains arrive infrequently. When they do it is women, it is children, it is babies in mothers’ arms.

“They arrive in wagons cheek to jowl, a sea of humanity with just very often one suitcase or the clothes on their back.”

He compared scenes at the railway station to his Jewish grandparents’ experience of fleeing to the UK during the Second World War.

Poland Russia Ukraine War
Refugees arrive at the railway station in the Polish border town of Przemysl (Daniel Cole/AP)

Addressing the number of households that have now signed up to provide a home for Ukrainian refugees, he said: “This is not difficult. We don’t even need to say that the Government are getting it wrong or doing the wrong thing.

“The British people are speaking up. All they want is (for the Government) to deliver – and I am going to repeat this because it bears repetition – to deliver on the promises that they have made.

“It is now close to 50,000 people that have stood up and offered their homes. They just want to get them here.

“It doesn’t take much. It takes people on the ground to help with the paperwork.”

Nearly 89,000 households have now signed up to take in Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion, according to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Ukrainian dancer Platero confirmed that her relatives had arrived safely in Poland.

Rinder was recently made an MBE for services to Holocaust education and awareness, after exploring the stories of Jewish families in a BBC series and speaking regularly in schools alongside survivors.

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