A collective of humanitarian charities led by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) set up a camp housing around 100 “unaccompanied, isolated foreign minors” in a square just off Paris’ Place de la Republique on Monday night.
The five groups involved are calling on the French government to take greater responsibility for young foreign migrants, many of whom are living in the suburbs of Paris and are almost totally reliant on charitable support.
“It is time that departments in Ile-de-France (Paris region) fully accept their obligation to protect and take care of these young people and stop passing them off to associations and citizens collectives,” the charities in question said in a statement on Tuesday, June 30.
The five groups involved — MSF, Comede, les Midis du MIE, TIMMY – Soutien aux Mineurs Exiles, and Utopia 56 — also say that the system for accessing state support needs an overhaul.
The collective argues that at present, many cases are dealt with too quickly. Young people go before judges without an interpreter or all of their documentation, meaning many are wrongly dismissed, further complicating the isolated youths’ access to state support in France.
“People who declare themselves minors, and isolated need to be considered as children in danger and protected as such, without being differentiated by nationality,” the groups said.
“Yet, for years, many of them have found themselves deprived of departmental protection and with no other alternative than the street. This abandonment has been glaringly obvious during the winter period and the COVID-19 pandemic, where association and citizens collectives were the only support for hundreds of isolated foreign minors.”
After the infamous “Jungle” migrant camp in the northern port city of Calais was destroyed in 2016, many migrants descended further into the country, including the capital. In January, police dismantled a 1,000-person strong camp in Paris’ northern suburbs, where migrants fleeing war and poverty in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia were living.