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Interview

Jean Stellittano: “The Alpes-Maritimes Secours Populaire is helping nearly 1,300 Ukrainians”

Jean-Stellittano-min
AS Monaco

The secretary general of the Secours Populaire des Alpes-Maritimes spoke at the Riviera derby match, which AS Monaco (1-0) won, and which he kicked off.  A match that also featured a show of solidarity, as an auction of shirts was organised by both clubs to help refugee Ukrainian families in the Alpes-Maritimes.

How did this charity operation involving AS Monaco, OGC Nice and the Secours Populaire 06 come about?

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We try to get the public involved as much as possible to support us in our efforts. We have a lot of volunteers, but we also have overheads to cover. OGC Nice and AS Monaco have been supporting us for several years now through free tickets for the families we help.

When the clubs saw what was happening in the département, they got in touch with us immediately. AS Monaco wanted to help us right away. This derby match, because the whole region gets excited about it, was the best possible opportunity. It means we can reward the extraordinary work of our volunteers, and it is a treat for the Ukrainian families that we were able to bring along.

How will the proceeds from the shirt auction be used? 

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We have just bought hygiene products, babies’ nappies, and foodstuffs. Families can come to the fifteen branches in our département to get basic necessities for free.  I should mention refugees have arrived with few resources, especially those who are arriving now.

The Alpes-Maritimes is taking in the biggest number of Ukrainians after Paris

Jean Stellittano

The richer people arrived at the beginning of the crisis, but this second wave of refugees is much less well off. We must do everything we can to make them financially independent, but it takes time, and inevitably donations, to be able to support them in the meantime. Today, the Secours Populaire des Alpes-Maritimes is helping nearly 1,300 Ukrainians.

Are any other initiatives being put in motion by the Secours Populaire 06 for these families?

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We are trying to give them more than just the basic necessities. Some families will be able to go to the Oceanographic Museum, for example. We need to help them get out of this stressful and anxiety-ridden climate by providing outings to clear their heads.

SEE ALSO: Ukraine: Monaco Red Cross appeals for donations

We try to give them as much material and psychological assistance as possible. But it costs a lot of money. This is why an operation like the one AS Monaco is organising with the support of OGC Nice is a great help to us.  Everyone understands that this situation will be ongoing for a long time and that the families will not be able to go back immediately.  The solidarity that was shown in the early days needs to be sustained over time.

Jean--Stellittano-min
© AS Monaco

How do you handle the arrival of Ukrainian refugees?

The Alpes-Maritimes is taking in the biggest number of Ukrainians after Paris Almost 7,000 Ukrainians are believed to be present in the département. The Secours Populaire 06 has been particularly hard at work for the past two years, (smiles).  But we are aware of the role we play. We are still happy to help these people. Everyone must be pull together to face these challenges long term. Operations such as the auction conducted by the AS Monaco really raise our spirits. No donation is too small. Even the smallest ones are precious.

What major operations are carried out by the Secours Populaire 06 at the moment?

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We helped a lot of families and artisans after storm Alex, with more than a million euros in financial aid for the victims of the storm. Our volunteers are extremely active, even a year and a half after the disaster. We are also helping people who have been affected by Covid-19.

There is some concern that aid is waning compared to the momentum of the early days of the conflict

Jean Stellittano

In the early weeks of lockdown, in March 2020, in the space of two and a half months, we distributed more than 130,000 meals to refugees in the département’s hotels. In January 2020, before COVID-19, the Secours Populaire was helping nearly 5,000 people in the Alpes-Maritimes department. Today, the figure is nearly 13 000. We are fortunate to be able to work with other charities and many towns. Solidarity is expressed in many ways.

Do you often operate in Monaco?

The Monaco Red Cross is very close to the hearts of the Monegasque people and does a lot of work on the issues we have mentioned.  Until now, we have not had the opportunity to operate in Monaco, even though AS Monaco regularly gives us match tickets. It is an opportunity to make the Monegasques aware of the work that is being done by our association.

READ ALSO: AS Monaco edge past OGC Nice in captivating Derby win

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As I always say, it is thanks to charities like ours that our region remains a pleasant place to live in. The work we do every day with people in need means that social cohesion is preserved.  We don’t get to the stage of people begging and suffering from severe depression.  Our work contributes to the quality of life that we all know on the French Riviera.

Do you feel a strong sense of civic duty on the part of your donors?

Unfortunately, the latest headline eclipses the previous one. It’s only human, but since the beginning of the first round of the presidential election, French people have had other things on their minds.  We understand, it’s natural, it’s an important event. But there is some concern that aid is waning compared to the momentum of the early days of the conflict.

On the occasion of the French Riviera derby, AS Monaco and its president, Dmitry Rybolovlev, took a number of steps in support of Ukrainian refugees, along with the Secours Populaire des Alpes-Maritimes. The President of the ASM donated to the charity, the club donated part of the proceeds from the match, and an auction of shirts from the match was organised on the MatchWornShirt platform.

Readers who wish to support the work of the Secours Populaire can make a donation on the www.secourspopulaire.fr website, or make a bid in the shirt auction (until the end of this week) on www.matchwornshirt.com.