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Ukrainian refugees | Stuck in the bureaucracy in Hungary



Olga Kulik crossed the border between Ukraine and Hungary after a long journey. The octogenarian now comes up against another obstacle: a bureaucratic labyrinth prevents him from coming to take refuge in Canada, according to his daughter, a Quebecer of Ukrainian origin who came to pick her up in Budapest.

“My mother lived through the Second World War when she was 8 years old. She is now reliving the same trauma. And bureaucracy prevents him from taking refuge in Canada, ”says Olena Polonska from her hotel room.

She’s been stuck in Budapest, Hungary, with her family for two days now, with no return date. She and her husband Martin Dubé, residents of the Laurentians, made the trip to pick up Olga, 88, as well as Kristina – a friend of the family – and her daughter Palina.


Palina, 6, Olga Kulik, 88, and Kristina, 31, in Vilok, Ukraine

Thanks to her daughter, Olga got her visa a day before the start of the war. It just needs to be printed in his passport.

“For Kristina and Palina, you must submit an online application. But it’s complicated. We have questions, but no one to talk to, ”laments Polonska.

Unable to reach anyone on the phone to facilitate their task.

We call Ottawa, we get a voicemail. At the embassy in Budapest, no one was there to answer our questions. We are bilingual. Imagine those who arrive alone, who speak neither English nor French. Is beyond me.

Olena Polonska, resident of the Laurentians

Coming to Canada in an emergency requires a lot of paperwork. Yes, the procedure is accelerated, but you have to produce documents, pay for them, have them translated, says Mme Polonska.

“I don’t understand why we don’t offer any assistance in Ukrainian. »

Waiting for more information and support, the small group finds itself stuck in Europe.

Far from danger

Olga Kulik is exhausted, says her daughter. The refugee left Zaporizhia, in the south-east of Ukraine, under the bombs. Thirty hours by train and taxi later, she arrived in safety.

Running away in a panic with the screams of people jostling each other was harrowing. “It looks like she is 10 years older, describes her daughter. It was inhuman. I received a video, I felt like I was watching a WWII movie. »

Mme Polonska and her partner received a rather cold reception at the Canadian Embassy on Wednesday morning in Hungary. The couple, however, tried to explain their situation. “Security guards who spoke Hungarian refused us access to the embassy. The problem is that we can’t talk to anyone. Neither on the phone nor at the embassy,” says Mr. Dubé indignantly.

They are women and children. [Ces réfugiés] should be able to return to Canada and then do the paperwork here.

Martin Dubé, resident of the Laurentians

In the hotel where Mme Polonska lodges, mothers and their little ones look at the employees with a lost look, clutching their backpacks firmly. The majority speak neither French nor English. They don’t understand asylum procedures.

Canada has a large reception capacity and a large Ukrainian diaspora. “After promising a welcome with open arms, I expected a contact person who spoke Ukrainian to be on hand to help. But no. »

Thursday, her spouse and she will try to continue their efforts in Vienna.

At the time these lines were written, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada had still not responded to questions from The Press.

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