A website has been launched to support people in France who want to host Ukrainian refugees in their homes, as well as listing other ways people can make a difference.
France has said it can host 50,000- 100,000 refugees, with 30,000 already in the country, of whom 10,500 have received temporary residence permits.
Parrainage.refugies.info requests that people who can offer accommodation fill in an online form to provide more details, which will be forwarded to their local prefecture.
The prefecture will then make contact directly, as appropriate.
Do you speak Russian or Ukrainian?
The website also has suggestions for financial and other donations, plus a registration form for people who speak Ukrainian or Russian and want to help with translation.
Charities and NGOs can use this government website to recruit volunteers to help them carry out their work for Ukraine.
Host refugees in your home
Another useful website for people who wish to host refugees is cohabitations-solidaires.fr, or you can also go through réfugiés.info, which provides information in English, French and other languages on the process of welcoming and supporting a refugee in your home. Brittany-based association Utopia 56, set up to help migrants, is also involved in supporting Ukrainian people.
Otherwise, many cities and towns around France are organising this type of offering individually – for example, Lille, which announced 250 places, or Toulouse. In this case, you should contact your mairie directly.
Tech kit and apps for refugees
The international organisation Techfugees, which helps displaced people using technological solutions, also has a French chapter. You can find out more about the organisation via techfugees.com (in English).
What supplies to donate
SupportUkraine.co is an international platform that outlines what supplies are currently most needed in Ukraine and lists how people can help (in English).
UN refugee agency UNHCR says more than 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian offensive began in February. Most have entered the neighbouring countries of Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Marlène Schiappa, junior minister for citizenship, said that every Ukrainian in need of accommodation would receive it in France.
She clarified that Ukrainians were not collectively being granted refugee status, as many hope to return to their country.
Instead, they are being offered a “temporary, immediate status” with the same guarantees of protection as refugee status, she said.
This will also offer access to schooling and financial and medical support.
Meanwhile, a ‘pop-up’ visa processing centre was set up in Arras in March for Ukrainian refugees trying to reach the UK.
France-UK services not joined-up
The French Interior Minister had earlier denounced the UK government for a “lack of humanity” in its behaviour towards refugees after many who had travelled to Calais to cross to the UK were told to go to Paris or Brussels to get a visa.
In a letter addressed to his counterpart, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Gérald Darmanin called for the UK to set up proper consular services in Calais. He also condemned the UK’s initial plan to welcome only Ukrainians with family in the UK.
The UK has since extended the family visa scheme and launched a ‘Homes for Ukraine’ initiative.