PARIS (AA) – France will launch a sponsorship program to enable French families to provide accommodation to fleeing Ukrainian refugees.
Since Feb. 25, border police have allowed 5,000 people to enter France and many more are likely to follow, Premier Jean Castex said, while announcing the launch of the “I am committed to Ukraine” program.
The program will benefit entire families as well as mothers or fathers who are traveling alone with children.
In some cases there are minors who cross the borders on their own, she said.
Schiappa, who is overseeing the initiative, said the rules reserved for asylum seekers will be relaxed for Ukrainians arriving without passports.
“Humanity does not mean adding formalities to formalities,” she said, adding that such families will receive “social support” and their “children will go to school.”
She said Ukrainians will be awarded “refugee status” for up to one year which can be renewed twice and they will receive “a work permit” as well as allowance given to asylum seekers.
The government has not set a limit on a maximum number of Ukrainian refugees but set a goal to ensure “that every Ukrainian who arrives must be able to have housing,” according to Schiappa.
France follows stringent rules for asylum seekers. Rights organizations have claimed that foreign migrants and refugees, including minors, who arrive in France without a passport and valid papers, known as irregulars, are deported fraudulently by police across borders in Spain or Italy.
Only a few receive asylum following an exhaustive verification process during which they are forced to camp in makeshift accommodation in public parks, on the sides of the road because of the lack of official housing facilities.
Paris and Calais are filled with thousands of refugees who are subjected to daily evictions, harassment and attacks from police.
Several NGOs have denounced the government’s unequal treatment vis-a-vis Ukrainians and non-European refugees from African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries.