A significant minority of refugees arriving in France who claim to have fled the Russo-Ukrainian conflict are not Ukrainian, with many originating from Africa and the Middle East, according to information published by French newspaper, Le Figaro.
France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex revealed on Tuesday that more than 5,000 prospective asylum seekers had now arrived in the country since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 25, and that number is “rapidly increasing.” More than 500 arrived on Monday, many of whom were transported by bus from Berlin, and others reaching France by rail and air. There are many reportedly also arriving unofficially via their own means to stay with family members already settled in France.
However, many of those arriving through official channels and being identified by the authorities are non-Ukrainian, with Le Figaro reporting that as many as 30 percent are migrants of other nationalities.
The newspaper reveals that 7.5 percent are of Algerian nationality, while 3.5 percent of arrivals are from the Ivory Coast and Morocco respectively.
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Indians and Kyrgyzstan nationals are next on the list at 2.5 percent apiece, while other nationalities arriving include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Pakistan, Nigeria, and China.
New arrivals in France arriving from Ukraine have been guaranteed accommodation, French Minister Delegate for Citizenship Marlène Schiappa told French broadcaster Franceinfo on Tuesday, but they would not all receive blanket refugee status, with the country hoping that many will choose to return home following the conclusion of the conflict.
Schiappa explained that Ukrainian asylum seekers were instead being offered “temporary, immediate status,” which guarantees the same rights as refugees including educational, financial and medical support.
The crisis in Ukraine has come to pass a matter of weeks before the French presidential election, and candidates will now inevitably need to formulate a position on the extent of support that should be offered to those fleeing the conflict.
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Conservative presidential candidate Éric Zemmour has claimed it is right for Ukrainian refugees with French familial links to receive temporary visas to reside in the country.
“If they have ties to France, if they have family in France … let’s give them visas,” Zemmour told BFM TV.
When questioned why he supported such a move given his historically strong position on stricter immigration, Zemmour insisted it is a “question of assimilation.”
“There are people who are like us and people who [are] unlike us,” the conservative populist noted. “Everybody now understands that Arab or Muslim immigrants are too unlike us and that it is harder and harder to integrate them.”
“We are closer to Christian Europeans,” he added.