Nearly 300 Ukrainian refugees welcomed at a humanitarian stop near the Porte de la Chapelle

Travel bags are stacked behind the entrance gates. Ukrainian refugees are hosted in one reception center managed by France Terre d’Asile, located at 39 rue des Cheminots (18th arrondissement), in the heart of the new Chapelle International district. Two hundred people who arrived by train, plane or even car found refuge on Friday in this new humanitarian stopover on a former SNCF site, a stone’s throw from the Porte de la Chapelle. There is a shuttle reception and transport system at the Gare de l’Est, where most refugees arrive by train from Frankfurt.

This Saturday morning, children draw on small tables. Some cry. Sleepy women with their babies in prams. Tears stream down a young woman’s cheeks. “As soon as I look at the faces of my relatives in Ukraine, I cry. One of my sisters wanted to stay in Kiev with her husband and our three brothers. Two others are still in Poland. We’ve put it all behind us. It is very difficult. Fortunately, we can still communicate with those who stayed in Ukraine,” said Svetlana, who arrives from Kiev after five long days of traveling with her parents, three sisters and eight young children.

” I’m exhausted “

“I lived in Irpin, on the outskirts of the capital. The apartment we had just paid for was bombed,” said the distraught young woman. How does she see the future? “I don’t know. I’m exhausted,” she said.

At the entrance, her voice broken with worry, a woman comes to offer help. “I left Ukraine about thirty years ago. I await the arrival of my relatives. But for now they are still stuck on the road,” she explains.

Anne Hidalgo, accompanied by the mayors of the 10th and 18th arrondissements, this Saturday morning visited the humanitarian stopover a stone’s throw from the Porte de la Chapelle, in the presence of the consul and the director-general of France Terre d’Asile in charge has site management.

Anne Hidalgo, accompanied by Éric Lejoindre and Alexandra Cordebard, the mayors (PS) of the 18th and 10th arrondissements, and Jean-Luc Romero, deputy (PS) in charge of human rights, visited the property this Saturday morning. “On Friday, two hundred refugees were received and about eighty this morning. The majority are women and children because men no longer have the right to leave Ukrainian territory,” explains Delphine Rouilleault, Director General of France Terre d’Asile.

The purpose of the humanitarian stopover is to centralize all administrative procedures related to the reception of refugees (application for asylum, registration of children in crèche or school, application for housing, etc.). The French Office of Immigration and Integration, which is responsible for organizing the reception of asylum seekers and refugees on French soil, will settle in this place, which can receive up to 300 refugees per day. “The Ukrainians are here for a short stay. They will come back to rebuild their country,” warned Ukraine’s ambassador to Paris, Oleg Shamshur, accompanied by the consul, Sergiy Esaulov.

“The state must be on our side and the European Union’s solidarity must be stronger than during previous humanitarian crises when we were alone on the front lines,” Anne Hidalgo told the Parisian. The mayor of Paris was in Warsaw on Friday with her European counterparts to discuss the consequences of the war in Ukraine and work together.

In the meantime, the crisis unit of the city hall of Paris is making an inventory of the empty houses to receive the refugees and is also making the school in rue de Verneuil (VIIe) available to educate the children. Anne Hidalgo also recalled that, at her request, the Théâtre du Châtelet will host the Kiev City Ballet in residence “as long as it wants”. The Ukrainian company was on tour in France with ballet performances Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky.

Parisians are invited to bring their donations (hygiene products, blankets and comforters, dry food and clothing for women, children and babies) to the town halls of the districts, which are exceptionally open during the weekend. The call for solidarity has been heard. A first truck of 21 tons of donations left the town hall of the 15th century this Saturday morning.