At the Gambardella gymnasium in Montpellier, around fifty volunteers from SOS Montpellier Ukraine and the Red Cross work every night to welcome Ukrainian refugees as dignified as possible.
Guy, a retired psychiatrist, is a volunteer: “We can’t manage everything, we are asking for state aid urgently”.
“It’s not up to volunteers to do all the reception work”
Sophie Mazas, president of the Hérault branch of the Human Rights League (LDH), raises the need to provide a unique and suitable reception area, therefore including sanitary facilities and electrical outlets. “The Palais des Sports in Castelnau-le-Lez seems to us to be the ideal place. We are asking for a place that can accommodate everyone in the same place. To change the location of refugees is to exile them a second time. “
At first, the Ukrainians were placed in families but their state of post-traumatic stress showed the limits of their commitment.
“Beyond the place, we need the support of the State and the prefect. It is not up to the town halls to do all the work and even less to the volunteers. They work fifteen hours a day and are exhausted “, explains Sophie Mazas.
300 Ukrainians already on their way to Montpellier
Interrupted by a message, the president of the LDH is worried to learn of the arrival of 300 Ukrainians in Montpellier. Where to house them? The gymnasiums offer only 80 places. According to her, “a non-welcomed person is a future victim of trafficking”. In the last convoys, six women disappeared between Poland and France. Human trafficking networks and pimps post themselves at the borders, identifying the most vulnerable women.