The mayor of Cazilhac and his team of volunteers were due to arrive in Przemyśl, a Polish town a few kilometers from the Ukrainian border, last night. Throughout the week we share with you this road and human odyssey with the help of one of our journalists at the heart of the convoy. The story of the second day of travel, where hopes and fears of reaching the refugee camps intertwine.
Humanitarian convoy for the Ukrainian border, second day. After leaving Nuremberg at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning and then crossing the Czech Republic back and forth, we are finally on Polish soil. At the time of writing these lines, we are only a few kilometers from Kraków.
It’s only a matter of hours before we get there. Unless it is unforeseen, we will be in Przemysl in the middle of the evening. Despite the good vibes on the bus, there’s a lot at stake in this odyssey. All volunteers know this and don’t forget it: “We have to send as many Ukrainian refugees back to France as we can take in. That’s why we came.”
At this stage of the game, Toni Carvajal – the mayor of Cazilhac who initiated the expedition – has some reservations. Reasonable reservations.
Fabienne d’Arzac, a nurse from Aude who has been there for two weeks, recently informed him that access to the camps is severely restricted. And this as humanitarian organizations warned of the dangers of human trafficking. They pointed out that cars continue to come to the aid of refugees on the Ukrainian border in Poland. But once they were on board, there would be no trace of their care.
“I fear that we will not all have access to the refugee camps and that we will not be able to bring back as many people as we had planned. We have to show our IDs. I have my mayor’s scarf, all the official documents, my police officer ID, a list of all the contacts of the families willing to take in these women and children. Anyway, we’re going to meet all these people physically tomorrow.”he said calmed down.
Earlier in the day, Fabienne d’Arzac, a real link in the operation, told the mayor of Cazilhac that he didn’t know exactly how many refugees would be on the starting list. “The transit time in the camps is very short: 2 to 3 days. There are people who don’t want to leave Poland because they think they can return to their country quickly. Some of the refugees have family contacts or friends in this neighboring country and will join them, others decide to cross the border in the opposite direction and return to Ukraine, She stated via message. And others, completely unsettled by this dramatic situation, are diverted to two large shopping centers converted into reception areas: Tesco in Przemyśl city center or in Korczowa, some thirty kilometers from the border.
According to Toni Carvajal, one thing is certain: “For now, we’re sure to bring back at least 14 women and children with us.”
This morning, after the donations were dropped off at the various camps, the bus of hope was scheduled to stop at three more centers “to see if there are volunteers coming back to France with us”.