Fleeing the war to bump into a wall of bureaucracy.
This is the sad reality of Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada after leaving everything behind.
In front of the Canadian Embassy in Germany in Berlin, it is a real ballet of despair.
The back and forth is constant. So much so that the embassy has stuck to the window since yesterday morning large sheets of information on the immigration process, including Ukrainian and Russian.
Amina Akhtar was hopeful that she could be helped, especially after seeing a dispatch on the internet suggesting that Canada was ready to take in “an unlimited number” of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.
That is indeed what federal immigration minister Sean Fraser said a week ago.
The reality on the ground is quite different.
I asked her if she found what she was looking for when she showed up at the embassy.
“Actually, no”, says the one who left the occupied city of Mariupol to join Berlin.
“I took photos of the documents, I will continue my research later. »
In fact, our embassy in Berlin does not even offer in-person visa service in normal times. You have to go to Vienna, Austria, to process this kind of request face to face as close as possible to the German capital.
It must be said that the Canadian embassy is strategically placed to attract wandering refugees. It is located in front of one of Berlin’s most important stations, Potsdamer Platz.
In front of its main door, the maple leaf and the Ukrainian flag are hoisted side by side.
Canada last week welcomed some 900 Ukrainian nationals, including permanent residents.
A drop of water in this ocean of misery that now form more than 2 million displaced in 15 days of clashes.
Unlike Europe, Canada has not waived its visa requirements.
In this balance between security and generosity, Canada has chosen the former. It is a choice that can be defended, but that the Trudeau government must assume by avoiding draping itself in its virtue.
This would avoid misunderstandings with people like Amina Akhtar who expected something other than a sheet stuck on a window.
The new reception program for Ukrainian refugees designed by Ottawa, which simplifies obtaining visas, will only be in effect by the end of next week.
As we are already unable to process other applications within the time limits, Ukrainian refugees will have to be patient.
“We have no choice but to wait, that’s how it is,” Oksana Nagorna shrugs with her 3-month-old baby in her arms.
She and her family hope to join friends in Toronto.
Her mother left Moscow to travel to Berlin with her and her two children.
What does she think of Vladimir Putin?
The same as this war, that is to say “nothing good”.
The 31-year-old mother came to our embassy because her website is “not very clear”. A day in circles.
She will also try her luck at the American consulate, she who studied in the United States in her youth.
Playing roulette, looking for a new home. This is the new reality of millions of Ukrainians who have fled theirs under the bombs.