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French publisher launches travel guide for refugees

media The Routard line of travel guides, taking the French term for "backpacker", was launched in 1973. DR

Leading French travel guide publisher Routard announced this week it would provide a free guidebook for newly arrived refugees to Europe. Its founder said Wednesday he decided to take action out of disappointment with the efforts of the French government.

Routard’s guide has the English title of Hello! and comprises 90 pages of cartoon images on common situations that refugees and asylum-seekers can be expected to encounter.

The guide contains sections on practical information, housing, health, food and leisure with the aim of helping refugees communicate with people who help them.

“I realised that everyone had to deal with this humanitarian situation in his or her own way,” Routard’s founder Philippe Gloasguen explained to RFI.

Gloasguen said that disappointment with the French government inspired him to create the guide.

“The government said it would take in 24,000 refugees but I don’t find that to be enough,” Gloasguen said, explaining he hoped it would help inspire others to find their own ways to help people fleeing conflict.

“During World War II, families risked their lives to help Jewish refugees," he told RFI. "We are risking nothing but a bit of time and help. In return we receive smiles and gratitude, and I can say that brings much satisfaction.”

Routard said an initial 5,000 copies will be printed and sent to a federation of 870 groups working with refugees and asylum seekers in mid-October.

The free guide will not be found in bookstores, but a downloadable version is available on the publisher’s website.

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