The first Obligations to leave French territory (OQTF) begin to fall for foreigners from Ukraine, most students. Arrived in France after the start of the Russian offensive, they are not allowed to stay on French soil. The authorities believe that they can return home, because their country of origin is not at war. Nissia still can’t believe it. This 28-year-old Algerian, from the coastal town of Bejaïa, was received in early May by the Yvelines prefecture (Paris region). While she is thinking of applying for a residence permit, she is notified of an Obligation to leave French territory (OQTF). She has 30 days to return to Algeria by her own means, before falling into illegality. Nissia was following a university course in paramedic at the faculty of Odessa, in the south of Ukraine. At the end of February, when the bombardments of the Russian army approached, she left the country for Poland, then Germany and finally France where part of her family lived. She presents herself to the authorities who issue her a one-month residence permit.>> To (re)read: In France, the multiple blockages of foreign students who have fled UkraineContrary to people of Ukrainian nationality, foreigners residing in Ukraine do not enjoy the same rights on French soil. When the first obtained on their arrival in France a temporary protection of six months renewable, the others were notified of protection for only one month. “I was not even able to apply for a residence permit” Once this period has elapsed, the ax falls. “During my appointment at the prefecture, I was not even able to apply for a residence permit, recalls Nissia. The agent did not ask me any questions. She only took my Algerian passport and my certificate of Ukrainian schooling. A few minutes later, she came back with a document saying that I had to leave France within a maximum period of 30 days”. The Algerian was however accepted at the faculty of Bordeaux and that of Lyon to continue his studies. But the authorities don’t want to know. According to the state, she does not meet the criteria for obtaining the same protection as Ukrainians.>> To (re)read: France: the suspended future of African students arriving from UkraineFrance is actually following the European directive established a few days after the Russian invasion. Put in place in March, the text stipulates that only those who cannot return to their country “in safe and lasting conditions” must be taken care of in the same way as Ukrainian nationals. And four months after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, deportation decisions are increasing for non-Ukrainian nationals, ordered to return home.”Their country is not at war””For the authorities, the country of nationality of these people is not at war so they risk nothing if they are sent back to their homes”, analyzes Gérard Sadik, specialist in asylum issues at La Cimade. Clearly, unlike the Ukrainians, they do not flee the fighting and do not run any danger that could justify protection. And this even if they witnessed the bombardments and had to face the same anxieties as the Ukrainians. Nissia remembers the first days of the war very well. “I was so scared that I didn’t sleep for whole nights,” she says. “I heard shots everywhere around me, from my window but also when I was in the street. In the middle of the day, the sky was so dark because of the smoke”.>> To (re) read: Izi, Congolese: “At the Polish border, the Ukrainian soldiers were sorting out the whites and the others”Inza shares the same story as Nissia. This 27-year-old Ivorian left Dnipro, in central Ukraine, where he had been studying international relations for three years. Arriving in Chambéry, in Savoie, on March 3, he first obtained a temporary residence permit for one month. And on May 23, the prefect of the region issues him an OQTF. In his decree, consulted by AFP, the prefect underlines that “the person concerned does not justify either a private and family life anchored in the long term in France, nor of any insertion in French society”. The young man had however been admitted to a program at Sciences Po Grenoble to resume his studies at the start of the school year. they denounce the “double standards” of the authorities and deplore “a human waste”. “The differential treatment of these people, who experience the same traumas of exile, separation and uncertainty of the future as those who have Ukrainian nationality, is unacceptable”, deplore the activists. To hope to stay in France, these foreign students must enter into common law. They have no choice but to apply for a residence permit or apply for asylum so as not to find themselves in an irregular situation. But the path is strewn with pitfalls.>> To (re)read: “An absurd situation”: the hassle of African students in France after fleeing Ukraine “To benefit from a student visa, you must apply in their country of origin. We will therefore tell them to return home to have the right to study in France, it is absurd”, explains Gérard Sadik of Cimade. This is indeed what the prefecture replied to Nissia. “The agent told me to go back to Algeria, and to apply for a student visa there”, assures the young woman. And for the asylum application, there is also little chance that it will succeed. “For these people, the Ofpra [Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides, ndlr] will not look at the situation in Ukraine but that in the countries of nationality, and I fear that many of them will see their case dismissed”, regrets Gérard Sadik. The last hope of foreign students from Ukraine lies in recourse to the court Here again, the head of Cimade is not very optimistic and thinks that these legal actions will not lead to favorable decisions, under French law. a thousand, are therefore looking for alternatives to avoid being sent back. Most have left everything to continue their studies on another continent, no longer have ties with their country and do not envisage having to start all over again when they return home. “I dropped everything in Algeria, what am I going to do there?” asks Nissia. is the case in particular nt of Spain or Portugal. These two countries have chosen to treat all people who have fled Ukraine in the same way by granting them the same protection, whether they are Ukrainians or foreign students. >> To (re) read: In Poland, African students fleeing Ukraine locked up in detention centers Others are considering turning back and returning to Ukraine, to regions more spared by the fighting. Nissia has not yet made a decision. The Algerian continues to take her courses online and even takes her exams remotely. Classmates who had taken refuge in the Netherlands advised him to join them. “They tell me they can work legally or go back to school. But I’m not ready yet. I thought it would be easier in France because I speak the language and I have relatives here. I’m so disappointed with this country which advocates fraternity but which does not apply its principles”.
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