African migrants, along with a host of other nationalities, are exploiting the war in Ukraine to enter France, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has claimed.
Nicolas Bay MEP has claimed that African migrants are using refugee channels aimed at helping those fleeing the war in Ukraine to enter France.
Ultimately, the politician believes around one-third of migrants using the route are not from Ukrainian, a figure suggested in a recent article published in Le Figaro but hotly disputed by official sources.
According to Le Monde, a number of French right-wing populists have denounced the alleged use of refugee routes by non-Ukrainian economic migrants, with Bay, the vice-president of presidential candidate Eric Zemmour’s party Reconquêt (Reconquest) perhaps being the most prominent.
“[T]oday a third of the refugees who pass through Ukraine who do not come from Ukraine, but… come from sub-Saharan Africa in particular… [they] use this new migratory route to come to Europe,” the publication reports the French MEP as saying.
Bay also emphasised that France has an obligation to help Ukrainian refugees, saying that those coming from the country are “part of our civilisation”.
“There are those who come for economic reasons, who weigh down our public accounts and our social accounts, and the Ukrainians towards whom we have a duty of European solidarity, of course,” he said.
Le Monde went on to note that others from both France’s traditional and populist right have repeated the figure, which appears to be sourced from an article published in Le Figaro titled ‘War in Ukraine: one in three non-Ukrainians among refugees in France’.
However, the French authorities have disputed the number of migrants abusing the system, claiming that there was a question of dual citizenship at play.
“We have situations of dual nationality which are not easy to deal with,” said the director-general of the French office for immigration and integration, Didier Leschi, in explaining the figures.
Ben voyons ! https://t.co/AvbbJ73mXa
— Eric Zemmour (@ZemmourEric) March 12, 2022
The controversy surrounding non-Ukrainian migrants allegedly abusing Ukrainian refugee flows to enter France has gone viral online.
One image — posted by leftist French National Assembly member Aurélien Taché — is captioned with the line “Meeting in Cergy of refugees who arrived from Ukraine, after a long journey”.
Many replies to the post highlighted the fact that the image only appears to show refugees of African ethnicity, with French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour retweeting the image to his large online follower base.
“Thank you Aurélien Taché for participating in the necessary re-information on the subject of ‘Ukrainian refugees’,” wrote Zemmour’s digital strategy chief Samuel Lafont in response to the leftist politician’s post.
“Here are the refugees coming from Ukraine that Aurélien Taché boasts of welcoming,” replied another staunch Zemmour ally, Jean-Frédéric Poisson. “This charitable exhibitionism is insulting to real Ukrainian refugees, and reveals a hidden migratory reality. Let’s quickly get rid of this political oligarchy that despises everything and everyone.”
Yet another Zemmour ally, Damien Rieu — who previously served as a parliamentary assistant for a Rassemblement National (National Rally) official — posted an image in response to the leftist’s picture that labels the continent of Africa as “Ukraine”.
Black people are such a small share of the population in Ukraine that they are not even included as an individual category in census data.
— Damien Rieu (@DamienRieu) March 12, 2022