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Gard: in holiday chalets, Ukrainian refugees prepare for their life after

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The Mas Torras, in Aimargues, welcomes 95 Ukrainian nationals, especially women and children.

The department’s largest reception site for Ukrainian refugees is a haven of peace. It is located in Mas Torras, south of Aimargues, surrounded by fields where cows and sheep graze. Here are accommodated, in small houses arranged in alleys, 95 Ukrainians, “72 adults and 23 children”according to the director of the unit for the fight against exclusion of the Red Cross Malik Berkani.

This is where Olga and her family, who came from kyiv, put their minivan flocked on the windshield with a sheet of “Refugees from Ukrain” paper. At the end of an exodus as long as heartbreaking. “I didn’t want to leave, says this French teacher. It’s very hard to leave the country you love. At the beginning of the war, we had gone to the suburbs, 32 km from kyiv, thinking that they would not bomb this place. But there was an airfield nearby and they bombed. The children had to take refuge in the basement.”

After several attempts to find shelter in western Ukraine, the family finally left for the South of France, where Yuliaa, the younger sister, had found refuge a few days earlier. “We are very well received here. We are so tired… The children like it a lot, the French bring farm products, sweets, they talk to us a lot, support us.”

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Ukrainian refugees will stay in Aimargues “from fifteen days to three weeks”

Outside, volunteers from the Red Cross and the Gard Food Bank are busy. They bring stocks of food which will be offered to the occupants. There are also toys, clothes, made available. A little further, in the large room, some communicate with their loved ones. Two teenagers, studious, write in a notebook. Lisa, 12, from near Lviv, and Anne-Guelina, 13, from Odessa, are trying not to lose track of their schooling. Lisa follows her teacher’s lessons, by video, from Ukraine.

And shows his phone: “Here are all the school friends who are connected.” In the end, the war did not completely separate them. At Mas Torras there are also salt dough workshops, games, visits from the hairdresser… In the apartments, the infirmary service of the Red Cross makes the rounds of the occupants. He knocks on Amine, whose 5-year-old daughter, Dominika, has had eye problems for a few days. “I was told it was a reaction to the stress of war, explains the father from Sumy, in the east of the country. She needs to do rehabilitation. But here it’s better. She plays with the other children. it reduces nervousness.”

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Ukrainian refugees will stay in Aimargues “from fifteen days to three weeks. Here we provide a global welcome, with medico-social follow-up, explains Malik Berkani. It is necessary that the rights of refugees can be opened up, allowances, APL, in order to then find a solution for them in connection with donors and individuals.” A first step before starting a new life.

Calais Jungle, Covid… a real tradition of hospitality

This is not the first time that the Complementary Mutual Fund for Social Activity (CMCAS) for energy employees has come to the aid of populations. The Aimargues site had already welcomed migrants with no accommodation solution following the dismantling of the Calais jungle. More recently, vacation homes have welcomed carers during the Covid epidemic, but also homeless people with coronavirus who had to be isolated. “Our history is that in terms of solidarity, we have always been mobilized, without distinction of nationalityinsist Patrick Coulet, president of the CMCAS Languedoc and Sabrina Grayon, secretary. This is a voluntary process by our organization. Another similar site, in Agde, also hosts refugees. The Gard currently has 369 Ukrainian refugees registered by the prefecture. They are housed in 48 municipalities.

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