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European RoyalsLuxembourg

Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri moved by refugees’ stories at welcoming centre

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg visited a welcome centre for Ukrainian refugees, where he spoke with personnel, volunteers and people fleeing the war. 

On Thursday, 17 March, the Grand Duke, accompanied by the Minister of Immigration and Asylum Jean Asselborn and the Mayor of Luxembourg City Lydie Polfer, visited SHUK. 

The acronym stands for Structure d’Hebergement d’Urgence au Kirchberg (emergency accommodation in Kirchberg in English) and represents a structure for emergency placements located in an area of Luxembourg city called Kirchberg. 

After a lot of work, the structure’s capacity was increased to 250 beds and is currently being staffed by a mix of authorities from charities that manage the process of welcoming refugees and volunteers. 

Grand Duke Henri firstly spoke with the staff in charge of managing the structure and heard from them how the process has been playing out. He then chatted with volunteers, who are mainly tasked with sifting through the many boxes of donations that citizens provided and organising the distribution of aid to those who need it. 

But the most emotional moment for the Grand Duke was talking to some of the refugees currently housed in the structure. He heard stories of losing everything in the flash of an artillery shelling, of mourning family members who couldn’t be given a proper goodbye, of families separated without the certainty of ever being able to be reunited. 

It was so touching that the Court made a note of it in its official entry for the event, saying: “Exchanges very emotionally charged.”

It is not common for official agenda entries to have this type of connotation, making it even more poignant. 

Faced with so much suffering, the Grand Duke assured the refugees of the full support and sympathy of the Luxembourgish people. 

It is not the first time that the Grand Duke has met with Ukrainian refugees; he and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa met a mother and son at the Grand Ducal Palace on the 9 March, another event that left a lasting impression on the royals.