Home LAST NEWS War in Ukraine: Montpellier residents’ donations were stored at the Polish border

War in Ukraine: Montpellier residents’ donations were stored at the Polish border


Leaving Castelnau-le-Lez via Lyon on Friday, the convoy arrived in Lublin, Poland, on Sunday. Along with other convoys, the donations were stored in a warehouse near the Ukrainian border.

Late morning Monday, March 21, there is excitement in the warehouse of an artisanal area in Chelm, the last Polish town 15 km from the Ukrainian border.

The Montpellier convoy, three minibuses filled with donations, left Castelnau-le-Lez on Friday, connected to another convoy in Villeurbanne, near Lyon, on Saturday, and chartered by an association for helping people in danger from Lyon, Gips, successfully completed the first part of the mission. Bring the donations to their destination.

Other convoys to cross the border

The head of the convoy in the south of France, Yann Badra, is satisfied: It’s going pretty well even if we didn’t have time to eat today, but it’s progressing. We still have a 45 tons to unload (left Friday evening from Villeurbanne, Ed) and our minibuses from the South, Nice, Montpellier, Marmande“.

A 19 ton from Normandy, driven by Narbi, completes the unloading. Narbi knows the Cévennes well: My father was an underground miner in the mines in Alès. The truck will leave for France in stride. In the huge warehouse lent for the occasion, all nationalities rub shoulders.

Donations are pouring in from everywhere. Sometimes sorted, sometimes not, the extra work is substantial. Élodie Rubio, from Montpellier, is one of the joint logistics managers. It tags and activates on the unloading dock: There are a lot of loose clothes, in garbage bags”she laments.

Despite this, the arms of the human chains are activated to store the boxes at the back of the hangar: clothes, food, hygiene. Nurses and doctors, including Diane, a practitioner at the Millénaire clinic and a volunteer with the mission, list the drugs.

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Night falls on Chelm, sorting will take several more hours, before other special convoys pick up the pallets to cross the Ukrainian border. Ronan, a Parisian, head of mission, oversees the smooth running of operations.

Ronan, head of mission: “A destructive distress”

What kind of mission do you usually work on?

The last most trying were those related to covid. I took care of people on the street, excluded from healthcare centres. They often had very serious pathologies.

Was this mission complicated to organise?

Yes it was complicated on several levels. First gather the budgets to finance the vehicles, 4,000 km round trip, knowing that they are loaded. So a substantial forecast in essence. And then, a lot of things can happen on a convoy, you don’t always have everything under control.

After this mission, have you planned others?

Yes quite. Depending on the situation. It’s part of the project, depending on how things go. When we see that three million Ukrainians have fled, it’s not going to stop there.

The psychological side is very important, why?

These people who live in traumatic situations like this can reach levels of destructive distress. Taking care of these people with serious pathologies is not within the reach of ordinary people. We have volunteers trained in psychology so that our teams can talk, if they are faced with difficult situations.

A tank transported to Ukraine

Earlier in the morning, he had gathered in a parking lot in downtown Lublin, all the protagonists who had arrived the day before or late at night, a few steps from a Red Cross reception center: Thank you all for participating in this humanitarian action. But it is also about returning alive. If you sense danger, step backhe insists.

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The fifty or so volunteers gathered listen religiously. All the possibilities of specific missions are discussed as well as the necessary psychological support in the face of dramatic situations: “What the eye sees the brain digests, recalls a volunteer psychologist. They will be a few to do the job during the week.

The briefing over, direction Chelm for the unloading of the trucks. On the road, nothing suggests a war a few kilometers away. In open country, the convoy stops. A flatbed semi-trailer transports a tank to Ukraine. Unreal.

Further on, a diplomatic convoy passes at top speed towards the border. Powerful Polish police cars lead the way, sirens wailing. In Chelm, teenagers enjoy the sun on the terrace of a McDo. It’s almost hot. Two steps away, it’s chaos.

Ukrainians, candidates for exile

Marie and a team of volunteers from Angevin are hard at work, in cooperation with NGOs and local authorities, to recruit volunteers who are candidates for exile in Montpellier or elsewhere. The convoys will leave for France on Saturday morning.

She warns all volunteers: “If you are approached, say no or get closer to us. Beware of the consequences of accepting strangers.” All persons wishing to leave Poland must have valid, unexpired papers.

Ditto for pets and vaccination: “Rabies is present. Do not pet any animals you encounter.”

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