More than 3,500 people from Ukraine have found shelter in the canton of Vaud since the start of the war launched by Russia on February 24, according to an initial report from the authorities. About 760 students have been trained.
The reception of these refugees poses a “colossal challenge,” Philippe Leuba, chairman of the State Council’s delegation on Ukraine, said at a press conference organized on Tuesday at an emergency shelter in Gland. He was surrounded by three other members of the cantonal government and representatives of the Vaudois Institute for the Reception of Migrants (EVAM), the Cantonal Vehicle Personnel (EMCC) and the Civil Protection (PCi).
This “sudden” crisis caused “exceptional migration flows”, emphasizes Philippe Leuba. As of May 1, 3,505 refugees had registered with EVAM. For the branch, this means an increase in the number of benefit recipients of 60% in two months. Ultimately, 6,000 refugees are expected, according to forecasts from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).
Nine open structures
To take on this extra burden, the EVAM has hired about a hundred employees. Nine collective housing structures with a total of 900 beds have been opened. Three hundred new places will become available soon. Halls, hotels, former hospitals or EMS, administrative buildings: “We continue to look for properties,” says EVAM director Erich Dürst. The construction of temporary structures is also being considered.
No PC shelters are used, emphasizes Philippe Leuba. This does not prevent the PCi from being active in the field: 137 on-call workers have been deployed at the Beaulieu and Gland sites, which together provide 446 beds. Compared to the Covid-19 crisis, the PCi’s staff is “weak”, compared to Commander Louis-Henri Delarageaz.
More than two thirds (70%) of the refugees live with private individuals. Philippe Leuba praised their “tremendous generosity”. “Without this welcome, we would be in a much more complicated situation,” praised the head of the economy ministry. Knowing that the refugees in Switzerland are 90% women and children – men aged 18 to 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine – the danger of abuse has been mentioned.
“There is no such thing as zero risk”, Philippe Leuba acknowledged. But the canton is doing everything it can to keep it to a minimum. For example, an extract from the criminal record is requested from the hosts. Refugees are informed about how to ask for help in case of problems. For the time being, things are going “good”, assured the head of the security service, Béatrice Métraux.
“Unprecedented” situation in schools
The influx of refugees is also causing an “unprecedented” situation in schools, the head of the education department, Cesla Amarelle, reported. A third are young people. Since the end of February, 723 students have joined 425 classes in 85 compulsory schools. In post-compulsory education, 42 students joined the Ecole de l’accueil to enable them to acquire the basics of French and three joined gymnasium classes.
The figure of 723 students for compulsory education is “huge”, emphasizes Cesla Amarelle. Due to population growth, the latter normally welcomes a thousand new students a year. “The structures and the number of teachers present make it possible to cope at the moment,” she said. Private housing has the advantage that pupils are relatively evenly distributed over the territory of Vaud.
Refugees from Ukraine are eligible for the S permit, which allows them to work, among other things. According to Philippe Leuba, several dozen have found a job in the hospitality industry or in IT, for example. This is an educated population, with an interesting profile for the Vaud economy, he noted. But the difficulty of finding childcare solutions, the language barrier or the desire to return to the country are all obstacles to employability.
The canton has budgeted about 50 million francs for the reception of refugees from Ukraine, the economy minister recalls. This is a “first tranche” that will be supplemented by federal funding. There is a “great uncertainty” about the future. “No one can say what will happen in a month. We are trying to manage a crisis with many unknowns.”
This article has been automatically published. source: ats