In Turkey, more than a thousand Ukrainian children welcomed in the Antalya region

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Fleeing their country via Poland or Romania, many Ukrainian children were taken in by Turkey following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops. This emergency humanitarian operation was coordinated by kyiv and Ankara thanks to the support of Ukrainian benefactors.

On March 25, a month after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian children, orphans or placed in foster families, fled their country towards Turkey via Poland or Romania. An effort coordinated by kyiv and Ankara, relying on the financial support of generous Ukrainian benefactors.

But this emergency humanitarian operation was designed to be temporary. However, these children (more than a thousand) seem to have to stay in Turkey for the time being. France 24 went to meet them in the Antalya region where they are staying in hotels.

Under the Antalya sun, Kirill passes the time on a basketball court. he did not want to leave his relatives, who remained in Ukraine. “They were worried about me, they didn’t want me to see the war, you understand?”, explains Kirill, who arrived from Chernigov (north-eastern Ukraine). “They wanted to preserve me emotionally, that’s why they wanted me to leave, while I wanted to stay with them, even under the bullets”.

Like him, there are more than a thousand orphans or children placed in foster families to have reached Turkey since the start of the war.

In this hotel guarded by Turkish gendarmes and whose exact location must not be revealed, they are waiting to be able to return home, some are very young.

In the vicinity of Antalya there are two hotels like this. Ukrainian children are housed, fed and cared for there.

Attract people and capital

Among the benefactors, Ruslan Shozdak bears most of the burden. A Ukrainian businessman, he is the head of supermarket chains and cosmetics stores in Ukraine. “Thanks to the work carried out in coordination with our consulate and our embassy, ​​we have met the necessary conditions for the implementation of this project”, he explains to France 24. “Only a month after the start of the war, Turkey had already signed all the documents and given all the permissions for the placement of the children, it’s amazing how quickly they worked!”

Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Services says it is fully involved. “Social, cultural, sports and educational activities are organized for Ukrainian children in cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent, UNICEF and some non-governmental organizations,” the ministry said.

Since the start of the war, Turkey has encouraged the arrival of Russian nationals. By facilitating the opening of bank accounts, by authorizing the MIR payment system, everything has been done to attract people and capital.

In private, Ukrainian diplomats do not hesitate to denounce what they consider to be preferential treatment reserved for one party rather than the other, while Ankara is still trying to maintain a position of neutrality and mediation in the war.

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