Pierre-Yves Héleut is worried. On the way to the Warsaw exhibition center, the Breton, juggling his human resources company and his humanitarian action in Team4UA’s logistics coordination cell, tries to hear from Olga. This 27-year-old Ukrainian woman, 18 weeks pregnant, arrived at the shelter alone at night. “Were you treated in the medical unit?” “Asks this Finisterian from Saint-Frégant (29). The car drives past a column of ambulances parked in front of one of the Warsaw exhibition center blocks. Covering an area of 143,000 m², the six pavilions have been transformed into a solidarity “hub”. Nearly 25,000 refugees can be hosted there. That day, some 5,000 of them were looking for the way to a future to be rebuilt. “It is an exhibition center where fairs take place, the owners have offered to open it to welcome refugees. There are volunteers who come from all over Europe. It’s a pretty mess, everyone has their own idea of the operations. But let’s try to orient ourselves ”, Pierre-Yves slips, leading a small group of Bretons who bring some toys and sweets collected in Morbihan to redesign the space of a moment of smiles on the faces of children.
At the crossroads of international solidarity
In room D, used for departures, concern reduced the din of the crowd of exiles to a murmur, many of whom had their photographs taken, documents validated or inquired about upcoming departures. Pierre-Yves takes stock of Marina and Sonia. The two young Ukrainians fled their bombed country, but decided to stay and help for a few days, a few weeks, before finding a new home for themselves. “I wasn’t ready to leave everything at 24”, sighs Marina, who suddenly confronts us with unspeakable horror. “These are the photos of the Boutcha massacre transmitted by military friends. Hard not to talk about executions, right? “.
Ten minutes to choose a new destiny
A young couple looms before us, the wide eyes of two children sticking out of the stroller. Pierre-Yves guides them to counter 11, behind which four destinations are displayed: France, Portugal, Germany and Belgium. “There are also Italy and Spain. Sometimes they have a few minutes to decide before registering for the next convoys. It is a complicated situation, very anxious. We try to reassure them, to explain that another bus will soon arrive for another destination ”, explains Marina. In minutes, the choices will shape the destinies of families. “There is a preference for Germany, but also for Poland, which remains very popular for having proposed, very soon, a system that allows refugees to quickly access the national identification number, which is necessary to complete all administrative procedures. but also to find a job, for example “, explains Pierre-Yves. Marina, like most of the young English speakers, expects an opening to Great Britain, an Eldorado rarely offered.” We have to find a “sponsor” on the spot “.
A return trip to give some hope
In waves, between individual departures and arrivals, Hall D gradually dries up and swells, in a quiet environment. We come across grief, haggard looks, even mistrust, but above all a benevolent and generous humanity. Coming from all over the world, the “volunteers” (volunteers) of a month, a week or a day crossed the borders to concretely demonstrate their solidarity. There is David, a sailor from Dunkirk, who took a few days off to get on a plane, rent a car in Warsaw, go to the border, take care of a family and take them back to the fairgrounds. Along the way, he bought some chocolate Easter eggs to distribute to the children, then filled himself with smiles, before going to sleep for an hour and going back. The area of access to departures for France is rough. A bus from Anet (Eure-et-Loir) is scheduled for the next few minutes. On one of the chairs, Olga finally settles down. Pierre-Yves is relieved. He spent the night under surveillance. Fear of miscarriage was raised by doctors. The young woman is calm. “I left a small town in Ukraine, Mykolaiv oblast (region). My city of Snigirevka is occupied by Russian troops. I decided to leave after a heavy bombardment not far from the house, there was no more light, there was no water, I lacked food. I took the train from Odessa to Poland ”. Finally Anet’s team arrives. “We passed through Krakow, then through Medyka (on the border), transporting basic necessities. We are bringing back 50 people who will be welcomed into families ”, launch the volunteers, embarking Olga and her compatriots.
Olga’s baby is expected to be born in France
The bus takes off towards France. A successful new operation based on simple goodwill. Pierre-Yves is lucid “Team4UA was started by Jean-Christophe Bonis, a French entrepreneur who invests in start-ups. We have not received any help, neither from Poland nor from France ”. “In Lille, there are 1,000 families ready to open their doors. But the prefecture puts both feet on the brake. Here, it’s urgent ”, he breathes. “You have to fight to earn the right to help, and nothing is ever guaranteed. There is no coherence, no coordination, neither between the great foundations nor between the states. It is a little bit each for himself “.
A few days ago, Pierre-Yves received news from Olga. “I am in perfect health, I was welcomed by a very nice family that helps me in my situation. We plan to meet my husband in a week, he will come to see me and we will go for the ultrasound ”.