• Since the invasion of their country by Russia, many Ukrainians flock to Calais to join England.

  • Migrant aid associations are shocked by the difference in treatment between Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian refugees practiced by the city and its mayor Natacha Bouchart.

  • The city councilor defends himself and considers that he "has no lesson to receive".

    Natacha Bouchart fears a saturation of reception if the English do not open their doors more quickly.

The photo shocked the Calais associative world.

When they saw in the press a snapshot of Natacha Bouchart, mayor of the city, posing with Ukrainian refugees welcomed with honors in Calais, many shouted double standards.

"It's com.

We obviously have nothing against them.

But the associations were shocked by the difference in treatment between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians.

A large number of refugees in Calais are fleeing war or dictatorship.

This is the case of the Ukrainians but also of the Syrians, the Afghans or even the Sudanese.

Except that there is discriminatory treatment of other war refugees, ”protests François Guennoc, president of the Auberge des Migrants.

In the past, the association manager found the mayor of the city less welcoming to migrants in this port city close to England and a symbol for several years of the migration crisis.

Associations helping refugees are therefore not allowed to distribute food in many streets of the city.

“We have tickets, no-parking signs to prevent us from distributing food.

There are also ditches or mounds of earth that are dug”, lists François Guennoc.

A risk of saturation of reception if the English do not open the border

But for ten days, the influx of Ukrainians fleeing the war and wishing to join England has changed the situation.

When most of the other refugees sleep in squats or tents, the Ukrainians are urgently accommodated in a youth hostel provided by the city.

An outpouring of generosity assumed by Natacha Bouchart who demolishes accusations of discrimination.

“I have no lessons to receive from the associations.

In 2015, when Germany opened its doors to refugees, I myself offered state services accommodation for women and children who were on the streets.

I even paid for the showers to handle it humanely.

I also set up a meal area or even a very cold plan.

In short, I have no lesson in humanity to receive.

The associations also forget that migrants sometimes refuse to be sheltered elsewhere in the region, which would allow them to avoid tragedies in Calais.

She continues

So I think it's a bogus trial.

I don't want to get into the association game.

I know what I did and I'm not ashamed of it.


To justify herself, the mayor of Calais also explains that it is the British who block migrants at their border.

And that their position, under popular pressure, is also in the process of softening a little for the Ukrainians.

For ten days, of the 600 who have arrived in Calais, 300 have already obtained a visa to cross the Channel.

But for those waiting, who have to go and examine their visa file in Paris or Brussels, accommodation structures are already beginning to run out.

The requisitioned youth hostel is full and various hotels in Calais and the region are getting organized to accommodate these newcomers.

Because the mayor of the city is beginning to fear a saturation of reception if the English do not open their doors more quickly.

“Awareness of this unequal treatment”

“We must not find ourselves too quickly in a situation that we will not yet be able to manage.

Migration crises, I have experienced them and I try each time to anticipate and make those who have not experienced them aware of how it is likely to happen.

It is absolutely necessary to find accommodation outside the city.

If the British block all of a sudden, we will find ourselves repeating the same failures, ”continues Natacha Bouchart, member of LR but declared support for Emmanuel Macron for the presidential election.

A humanist discourse that makes François Guennoc wink a little.

“When I hear, for example, Gérald Darmanin say that the British lack humanity, it makes me laugh gently.

Last October, a parliamentary commission rightly denounced in a report the lack of humanity of the French authorities in the treatment of refugees in Calais.

Above all, I think that the authorities are embarrassed by these accusations of differential treatment of migrants and they will be even more so if the British government remains ungenerous on visas", warns the president of the Auberge des migrants who sees only one positive side to this new influx of refugees.

Our file on the war in Ukraine

“A lot of people are starting to wonder why they're saying welcome to Ukrainians when they've never said that to Syrians.

There is an awareness of this unequal treatment,” adds François Guennoc.

Even if it is still far too early to speak of a change of mentality in a city accustomed to receiving all the misery in the world in spite of itself.


War in Ukraine: “Ukrainian refugees” but “Syrian migrants”… Will the conflict change our view of displaced populations?


War in Ukraine: The galley of Ukrainian refugees stuck in Calais for lack of a visa for England

  • Society

  • Calais

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  • War in Ukraine

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