Flanders wants to offer Ukrainian children holidays in Flemish towns
Flemish minister for Living Together Bart Somers wants to give children from Ukraine the opportunity to come and spend a holiday in Flanders during the summer months. In doing so, Somers is responding to a call from the Ukranian Association of Towns and Municipalities. "It is about giving young people between 6 and 17 a carefree holiday", said minister Somers on Tuesday during an exchange in the Flemish Parliament.
The association of Ukrainian cities and municipalities has already drawn up a list of more than 1.000 children and young people, between 6 and 17 years old, who want to come to Europe for a few weeks. For every ten minors, there is one adult Ukrainian companion. Interested local authorities would have to provide group care for a period of 4 or 5 weeks, allowing the children to escape their war-torn country for a few weeks.
Flemish minister Somers now wants cooperate with the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG) in order to examine what can be done. "It reminds me of the children from Belfast, or the children from Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster", he says. The minister would therefore like to present the Ukrainian appeal - which is aimed at all of Europe - to the VVSG.
The Open VLD (Flemish libertarians, ed.) minister realises that a lot is already being asked of cities and municipalities. "Local authorities should not feel obliged to do this, but who knows, there may be a number of municipalities in Flanders that would like to do this", says Somers. There will be no subsidies provided by the Flemish government, but Somers does want to give the towns and municipalities involved "the best possible logistical support".
However, minister Somers stressed that there is a difference between this initiative and the sustainable reception of Ukrainian war refugees. "This call is about organising a short summer camp of a few weeks, comparable to a scouts camp, but with Ukrainian and psychological counselors present", he says.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK