Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, met with Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska this week in the US to discuss France’s support for Ukrainian children who are seriously ill with cancer and how Ukrainian children are adapting to French schools.
The pair were in New York for the 77th session of the UN General Assembly and met on Wednesday (September 21).
They discussed Opération Cigogne (Operation Stork), which was set up to transfer Ukrainian children and teenagers who are sick with cancer to French hospitals to continue their treatment.
This is done in collaboration with French branches of the Red Cross.
1/2 Hier, nos bénévoles ont rejoint les presque 150 bénévoles mobilisés pour la 1re « Opération Cigogne » mise en place par l'ARS IDF, en présence de Brigitte Macron, d'Olivier Véran et de Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.#santé #solidarité #Ukraine #partoutouvousavezbesoindenous pic.twitter.com/GGl2QeJKAC— Croix-Rouge Seine-Maritime (@CroixRouge76) March 22, 2022
[#urgence] Hier des #bénévoles Dunkerquois ont participé à l'opération #cigogne. Une opération de transports sanitaires visant à évacuer des mineurs #ukrainiens blessés vers des hôpitaux Français.— CroixRougeDunkerque (@CroixRougeDK) March 22, 2022
3️⃣0️⃣ dont 2️⃣de @CroixRouge59 #Merci aux #volontaires mobilisés pic.twitter.com/J7fdd1QRkJ
The two first ladies also discussed the school progress of Ukrainian children who have fled to France since the invasion.
“You can’t imagine how quickly they adapt, how quickly they learn French!" Mrs Macron said.
Mrs Zelenska asked for school schedules and curriculums to be made flexible for the Ukrainian children.
“In many countries, our parents now have to choose between a local school and their native school, but if the governments make an effort, there will be no need to abandon anything,” she said.
She said that she was touched by Mrs Macron’s kind words about Ukrainian school children.
Touching to hear how the first lady of France, Brigitte Macron, praises our children. They learn quickly, adapt easily. I asked for a flexible schedule for them at school, so that they would have time to study according to the program. Grateful to Mrs.Macron for her support. pic.twitter.com/2KRnTJvreo— Олена Зеленська (@ZelenskaUA) September 21, 2022
The two women have had a friendly relationship for some time. In March this year Mrs Macron visited Ukrainian children in Épinay-sur-Seine in the suburbs of Paris and said that she had been in written contact with Mrs Zelenska.
The Ukrainian first lady said in an interview with Le Parisien that same month that the pair shared a friendly relationship.
“One of the first messages of support [after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine] came from her,” Mrs Zelenska said of Mrs Macron.