welcoming with dignity, everywhere

accueillir réfugiés sipar

Like everyone else, the Sipar team has felt devastated by the tragedy currently unfolding in Ukraine and the arrival in France of hundreds of thousands of refugees. The horrors of war inevitably lead to the displacement of populations, and we should like to express our full support to those Ukrainian people who have remained, or those fleeing Russian aggression.

We can’t help drawing a parallel with the situation we knew 40 years ago. At that time, France opened its doors to thousands of Cambodians fleeing their country which was at war. In 1982 Sipar - Soutien à l’Initiative Privée pour l’Accueil des Réfugiés (Private initiative support to welcome refugees) was created with the aim of participating in the momentum of international solidarity. Over almost 10 years we created 160 welcome groups and accompanied more than 3 500 refugees up until their integration.  

We are delighted to see the measures France has taken to welcome the influx of refugees that no-one could have anticipated. We should, however, like to reiterate the importance of welcoming all exiles with dignity, and without discrimination.Regardless of the country from which he came, a refugee is above all a human being who has had to leave everything behind, in search of a better life. "A welcomed refugee is a saved refugee" like to say Bernadette Chaventon and Magali Petitmengin, founders of Sipar.

Today Sipar’s actions have evolved towards reading support in Cambodia and we no longer have a reception activity in France. We would, however, like to say to our friends: please take over, it’s your turn now to welcome the Ukrainians, they are relying on all of us. Immigration changes society and is a permanent source of learning. We grow through others, we ask ourselves questions, we evolve.

But how can you help with the welcome? We would encourage you too to create host groups for two weeks, a month, six months … To welcome a family and accompany them until they are independent. You could raise funds for everyday life, find accommodation, a job, help with administrative procedures, school for the children and all the while of course, keeping that notion of welcome and human warmth to be shared with those seeking refuge with us.

Several initiatives to support exiled Ukrainians are being set up all over France. Contact your mayor, the prefecture, local charities, and national associations such as the Red Cross or the Secours Populaire to find out about initiatives in your area. We thank all those who act in solidarity to work together for a better world.

To welcome is to give much, but it’s also to receive much …

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