PARIS. AN UNPRECEDENTED NEW CAMP IS A WARNING OF THE SITUATION FACING FOREIGN UNACCOMPANIED MINORS LIVING ON THE STREETS.
Overnight, a camp housing a hundred young people appeared in Jules Ferry square, in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. Due to the lack of arrangements put in place by departmental authorities, the task of providing protection and shelter for these minors has fallen entirely to NGOs. In response to this critical situation, we five NGOs are calling on the departments of Ile-de-France and asking them to finally put in place proper, systematic care arrangements for these foreign unaccompanied minors.
Like many others, the young people who are living in these camps are waiting for a ruling from Ile-de-France juvenile court judges in order to be able to claim their rights to protection from the Child Welfare Services, who operate under the direction of the department.
This protection from the Child Welfare Services was denied them after initial interviews conducted by the departments. However, when someone claims to be an unaccompanied minor the evaluations of minority status are often rushed, conducted without an interpreter, and without taking into consideration any identity papers. There is therefore a large margin for error. As evidence of this: 56% of the adolescents supported by Médecins Sans Frontières in 2018, whose minority status was contested by the departmental authorities, were eventually recognised as minors by a juvenile judge in 2019, after having been left for many months to fend for themselves.
Those who claim to be unaccompanied minors should be treated as children in danger, and given protection accordingly, regardless of nationality. However, for years, many have found themselves without the protection of the departments and with no other alternative than to live on the streets. This neglect has been especially blatant during the winter ‘truce’ and the Covid-19 pandemic, when the NGOs and grassroots collectives have been the only source of support for hundreds of foreign unaccompanied minors.
Comité pour la sante des exile.e.s (COMEDE), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), les Midis du MIE, TIMMY – Soutien aux Mineurs Exilés and Utopia 56 denounce Ile-de-France’s departmental authorities over the unacceptable living conditions faced by foreign minors and the vulnerable situations they are knowingly forced into. These NGOs demand that young people who claim to be unaccompanied minors are finally met with proper care arrangements, meaning they are given accommodation which takes into account their vulnerable positions, as well as educational, health and social support, right up until the final judicial decision ruling their status is made.
The departmental authorities are responsible for foreign unaccompanied minors. The NGOs and grassroots citizen collectives only operate with the humanitarian aim of making up for the failings of public authorities. It is time that the departments of Ile-de-France fully accept their obligation to protect these young people, take them into their care, and stop off-loading their responsibilities onto NGOs and citizen collectives.
Contacts presse :
- Comede : Matthieu Humez, 06 77 36 48 63,
- Médecins Sans Frontières : Laurie Bonnaud, 06 76 61 97 80,
- Les midis du MIE : Agathe Nadimi, 06 12 32 51 03, https://www.facebook.com/lesmidisdumie
- TIMMY – Soutien aux Mineurs Exilés : Espérance Minart, 06 87 58 20 49,
- Utopia 56 : Yann Manzi, 06 29 48 54 45, / Julie Vayssière 06 59 88 01 07,
Photo Bruno Fert