HOME Office bureaucracy is “literally abetting the plausible risk of genocide” in Palestine, an expert has said after the National revealed that people in Gaza had died while waiting for a UK visa.

Usually, people applying for a long-term UK visa from a foreign country need to give a fingerprint and photograph to a visa application centre (VAC). However, there is currently no VAC functioning in Gaza and more than 150 Palestinians have asked for an exemption.

However, the Home Office has not granted any – and two people died while waiting for the UK Government’s decision.

Sharing the National’s story on Instagram, SNP MP and home affairs spokesperson Alison Thewliss said it was a “deliberate choice by the UK Government”.

She told this paper: "I have had constituents in touch absolutely desperate to get their families out of Gaza to safety. There is no visa application centre in Gaza, and people cannot cross the border to Egypt without the appropriate documentation.

“The UK Government has the power to issue a waiver which would allow those fleeing safe passage. It is utterly heartbreaking and unacceptable that people have now died waiting.

"I urge the UK government to listen to those campaigning for an emergency visa scheme, such as Gaza Families Reunited campaign, and implement this without delay."

First Minister Humza Yousaf has also backed calls for a family reunion visa scheme to enable Palestinians to reunite with their loved ones in the UK.

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Alison Phipps, a University of Glasgow professor and the UNESCO chair in refugee integration through languages and the arts, warned that the two people who died waiting for a UK visa “will not be the last”.

She wrote on social media: “I am so sickened by the UK approach to visas and evacuation.

“The contrast to Ukraine could not be more marked.

“Bureaucracy literally abetting the plausible risk of genocide.”

Author Shannon Galpin also shared the story on social media, drawing comparisons with the Ukrainian scheme.

“We saw this type of tragic story with Afghans as well,” Galpin wrote. “Some of them UK citizens. But rules were waived for Ukrainians fleeing to accommodate.

“It is racist and it is unequal. And people die.”

The UK Government’s Ukraine Family Scheme, which closed last month, allowed eligible Ukrainian nationals to join family members or extend their stay in the UK.

Campaign group Gaza Families Reunited said that the Home Office’s fingerprint rules were “cruel” and that the “horrific” deaths demonstrate the “perils of the UK's continued failure to protect Palestinians in Gaza”.

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They urged the Government to “create safe routes” for those seeking to reunite with family members in the UK.

A spokesperson added: “It is a stark warning of what could happen to many more people given that Israel intends to launch an invasion on Rafah, a former 'safe zone' where 1.5 million people are sheltering.

“We call on the Government to urgently push for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. In parallel, we call on the Government to create a Gaza Family Scheme that will reunite Palestinian families in the UK and offer them temporary sanctuary until it is safe to return.

“The Home Office's restrictive policies mean that many people – including those eligible under existing routes – remain trapped in Gaza with no hope of being evacuated, left to face an uncertain future in deadly circumstances.”