Toulouse: Stations of the Cross for Ukrainian refugees looking for work without planning for the future

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After being welcomed in Toulouse, Ukrainian refugees face the difficult experience of finding a job despite the language barrier. without projection into the future.

Yelyzaveta Sharii-Yakubvska, 36 years old, from Poltava, 60 km southwest of Kharkiv. On March 12, two weeks after the start of the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine, she arrived in Toulouse with her 13-year-old daughter, after a grueling train journey through her country at war.

Thanks to the Free Ukraine Association, I found housing with individuals who “helped me a lot,” Yelyzaveta admits.

It was adapted to Toulouse very quickly, given its profile. The young woman studied languages ​​at the University of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital twinned with the Pink City, and speaks Spanish, French, English and a little German. In no time, I landed a job as a Spanish language teacher at a college in Labige. Her life, which she does not expect in the future, has radically changed.

‘I received my first French salary’

“I received my first French salary and found an apartment in Compans-Caffarelli, my daughter is in college, I can say I feel good, she humbly trusts. It is good to walk around, to visit, to meet people, people are so kind to me.” The teacher knows that she is somewhat privileged, she often exchanges with her compatriots who take booster courses, every day.

Nearly 3,000 refugees in Haute-Garonne

Among the nearly 3,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Toulouse and Haute-Garonne, according to figures from the Free Ukrainian Association of Toulouse, many are currently facing the difficult experience of finding a job, second only to accommodation with local residents. Residence. The first obstacle to employment, the language barrier despite the increasing number of courses at Jean Jaures University, in Ukraine’s free workshops and other associations and volunteers.

On Sunday, May 15, the Association of Free Ukraine organized the second edition of the “Information Meeting for the Displaced from Ukraine”. In the list, “for all those temporarily forced to leave Ukraine,” the association indicates, “the main topics such as housing, learning French, job search, family allowance (CAF), leisure,” etc.

Downgrade risk

In each of his encounters with other Ukrainians, Yelyzaveta witnessed the difficulty of finding a job equivalent to that which had existed before the war. Some refugees face complete social decline.

“I know a guy who was a professional firefighter and wants to find the same job in France, but he doesn’t speak French,” she says. But I also know a nurse who is not at all sure that her testimony will be recognized here, she knows. “Many refugees are looking for work in the hotel industry, nursing homes and the construction sector,” confirms Dana Landis, the IDP Support Coordinator in Free Ukraine.

A department store on the Rue des Salenques in Toulouse

The difficulty Ukrainian refugees face in finding a job is also an observation made by the inter-institutional platform for the reception of Ukrainians, which opened its doors last Tuesday at 28 rue de Salinques in Toulouse. One-stop shop operated by Haute-Garonne County Council, Integrated Meet and Orient Service (SIAO), State Services and Toulouse Metropole. Since the opening, more than 65 refugees have been welcomed there. Mustafa Ralis Murad, a dedicated teacher associated with the platform, explains: “The problem is really the language. I work side by side with a French-Ukrainian citizen, which is more reassuring for the people we welcome who ask to learn French by any means. We have constant requests in this direction. As They think they are not investing enough in the families who welcome them and for whom they are so grateful.”

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