French government condemns refugee children to homelessness

This 12 February 2018 France 24 video says about itself:

France: Young migrants brave Paris winter alone

RAP: Saliou is rapping in Wolof, the language he spoke growing up in Senegal. The 16-year-old dreams of becoming a rapper. Six months ago, he left his family and friends in Dakar. He crossed the Sahara and then the Mediterranean before reaching Sicily and finally Paris.

In the middle of winter: “I sleep in a cardboard box at night… and wake up early in the morning. I walk around the streets of Paris. It’s not easy! It’s hard.”

Charities which work with migrants and refugees say at least one hundred unaccompanied minors are sleeping on the streets of Paris.

Saliou does what he can to pass the time. “I don’t know anything or anyone here. I’m alone in Paris, I don’t have my father, my mother, my big brothers or my younger brothers. Only God protects me.”

Saliou showed his birth certificate to the authorities… If he can prove he’s 16, he’ll be eligible for child protection. “This is my birth certificate. I showed it, we spoke for an hour and a half and they told me: “I’m doubtful”. His claim was turned down, the person who interviewed him at the child protection unit wasn’t convinced he was under 18. So his future’s uncertain.

Where are you sleeping tonight? “I don’t know, maybe in a shelter/hotel or in the streets.” Saliou managed to find a room in a homeless shelter for the next two nights. After that, he’s likely to end up back in the streets.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

‘Paris condemns 200 migrant children to roaming the streets’

Today, 9:30 am

In Paris about 200 migrant children are currently wandering around without parents. They sleep on the street and receive no shelter. The Paris authorities usually label them as adults and therefore they have no right to shelter.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) writes this in a report about this group of children. The human rights organization spoke with officials, lawyers and aid workers. “And we also interviewed 49 minors who came from countries such as Afghanistan, Ivory Coast and Mali“, says Bénédicte Jeannerod, director of HRW in France. “The procedures for those children in Paris are not good, the assessments are going too fast and civil servants are biased.”

Too good at French

According to the organization, minor migrants in Paris hear almost always to that they are of age. This often happens immediately after entering an office. Civil servants see the child and immediately conclude, without investigation, that the minor is an adult.

“There are also children who tell officials that they have already worked,

and French authorities have apparently never heard about child labour

or that they have decided themselves to flee their homeland”, says Jeannerod. “And all they say is a reason for the officials to conclude: then you are already grown up.” A 15-year-old boy from Ivory Coast said that he was also considered to be an adult. “The one who spoke to me said that I spoke French too well, because I could answer all the questions, I had to be an adult, but I had eight years of French lessons at school,

in Ivory Coast, formerly a French colony; now a French neo-colony with invading French soldiers

so of course I could answer those questions.”

If a migrant is a minor, then the French capital has the duty to provide shelter and help. If a child is labeled as an adult, that is not mandatory. “The authorities do everything they can to ensure that they do not have to accept the children”, Jeannerod says.

“But France has the means and also the duty to protect all children, regardless of whether they are migrants”, says Human Rights Watch. “Only if there are very clear indications that a child is lying about his age research should be done, but now the authorities assume that migrant children are adults”, Jeannerod said.

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s A Season in France: The human cost of the refugee crisis. By Joanne Laurier, 24 October 2018. The film screened at the 2017 Toronto film festival. It has now opened in the US.

Malta lets refugee vessel dock after Macron’s government turns cold shoulder: here.

9 thoughts on “French government condemns refugee children to homelessness

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