The labyrinthine journey of a Ukrainian family in search of asylum

It took them more than a month to get the precious sesame and went through a veritable administrative maze that they will remember for a long time. Svitlana and Anastasiia, a Ukrainian mother, and their 10-year-old daughter arrived in France on January 19 for vacation. However, in the middle of their stay, war broke out and the two Ukrainians were unable to return to their country, but also to obtain the precious paper that allowed them the stay, which was only granted to Ukrainians who arrived after April 24. fled the conflict in February. It took a letter from the Elysée and the help of a caring director to resolve the situation…

It must have been a banal language stay. Anastasiia is taking French classes in France and her mother takes the opportunity to spend a few holidays with one of her friends, Laurent, an industrial hygienist whom she met on holidays in 2020 and who lives in Chevilly-Larue (Val-de-Marne). On February 24, everything will be complicated. Kyiv, where you come from, is being bombed, there is not even a return plane. She finds herself trapped with her daughter, with only her belongings for the stay, with no money, without all her papers. And with only three weeks to sort out the situation, as the legal deadline for them is March 13th…

“You don’t need to apply for temporary protection, you won’t get it”

Laurent will do anything to help his friends who don’t speak French. He tries to reach the prefecture of Créteil, which does not answer, and the prefecture of Aix-en-Provence, which is closest to their vacation spot, which sends him back to the prefecture of Créteil. The ping-pong takes about fifteen emails and several appointments at Ofii, the French office for immigration and integration.

He understands that Ukrainians fleeing the bombs should be given temporary protection, but that it will only be given to those who fled after February 24. “Between February 24th and March 13th nobody could answer me. I contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who promised to call back and never called back. La Cimade [association de soutien aux migrants et migrantes] was stuck on temporary protection. Nobody knew. »

Finally, on March 4th, the Council of Europe will vote on the famous temporary protection granting asylum to Ukrainian refugees for a year. Six days later, the prefecture of Créteil agreed to give them an appointment for March 21st. But in Créteil, the Director of Migration and Integration shares her dismay with them. “There’s no need to ask for temporary protection, you won’t get it,” she basically told them because Svitlana and Anastasiia arrived before February 24. However, she agrees to follow up and try to find a solution and asks them to call back ten days later.

A clear decision

Laurent is disappointed and very unhappy with this situation. Svitlana is less surprised: “I had always heard that there is a lot of bureaucracy in the European Union. And I knew that a lot of people would come.” In desperation, Laurent wrote to the President of the Republic without really expecting an answer.

However, the decision of the EU Council is clear: “Member States should be encouraged to consider extending temporary protection to persons who fled Ukraine from rising tensions or who were on the territory of the Union shortly before 24 February 2022 ( z on vacation or for professional reasons) shortly before that date and who cannot return to Ukraine due to the armed conflict,” she says.

Letter to Santa Claus

The answer of the Elysee comes a few days later, the President’s chief of staff, Brice Blondel, who on March 25 indicates that he reported their situation to the Prefect of Val-de-Marne. The family cheers loudly. “It’s like we sent a letter to Santa and he replied! Svitlana laughs again. In fact, on April 4th, during the appointment promised by the Director of Migration and Integration in the Prefecture, the family finally received the precious sesame.

“And everything is set up immediately, payment card, social security … We find France! » enthuses Laurent. Despite that long history of fighters (and fighters), Svitlana doesn’t hold it against France. “The French were very friendly. Everywhere, as soon as I said I was from Ukraine, people really wanted to help us. His friend is relieved but concerned for other Ukrainians who are in the same situation and not necessarily as fortunate. “I live this double standard as a terrible injustice. We recognize that we must fight to benefit from the law. »

Leave a Comment