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Utopia 56 is leaving the Paris Humanitarian Center

September 13, 2017 - 7:39am

Utopia 56 is leaving the Paris Humanitarian Center

Grande-Synthe, Paris : two civic adventures, two observations of negative interference by the administration.

Utopia 56, association of volunteers, is announcing its departure from the Paris Nord Initial Reception Centre (Centre de Premier Accueil), the first humanitarian centre for new arrivals opened in France, at the initiative of Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.

We had hoped that this centre, opened last year on the 10th of November, would be a model for the establishment of 5 similar centres in France along the migratory route of the migrants. It has become evident, however, that the administrative treatment of the refugees with the centre is anything but humanitarian and devalues the refugees.

What’s more, the police have recently launched a manhunt against the refugees. In other words, this centre cannot be a model. Utopia 56 announces its departure from the centre and will intensify its aid efforts to migrants in the street.

Why is Utopia 56 leaving?

Thousands of migrants have entered the Paris New Arrivals centre since the 10th of November. The mandatory visit to the Centre for Administrative Status Review (Centre d’examen de situation administrative (Cesa)) has become an administrative trap for many refugees and deprives them of their right to seek asylum. Often, they believe that they have submitted their asylum application whereas in actuality they haven’t. They then end up in a deportation procedure: entering the centre put them at a disadvantage!

In addition, police repression around the centre has grown more acute. These past weeks, the police have been waking up the migrants every two hours to make them leave. This is torture. Utopia 56 aspires to humanitarian centres that respect the law and where the migrants are truly welcomed. It’s not the case.

What’s next?

Utopia 56 will continue its volunteer work in the aid of migrants at the Initial Reception Centre until the end of October to give our partners, Emmaüs Solidarité and the City of Paris, the time to reorganise. We will then continue our volunteer work in the streets of Paris, intensifying our efforts: the distribution of blankets, clothes and water, help with food distributions, making sure queues are peaceful, welcoming and providing guidance to unaccompanied foreign minors, especially those who are not officially recognized as minors, helping the most vulnerable individuals and families etc.

To go further: Here are more information of “CESA”’s problems.

The Center for the Examination of Administrative Situations (CESA) was specifically created for the humanitarian center at Porte de la Chapelle. It is located in the premises of the police administration, in Jaurès. Migrants have to go and give their fingerprints within 5 days after entering the Home Center. If they refuse, they must leave the center. However, instead of helping refugees, this inevitable stage in the CESA traps administratively many refugees and deprives their right to asylum. They should better stay on the street and go to a civic association of lawyers… They often thought they had filed their Asylum Application with the administration, which is not the case. In France, you must file your application for asylum within 120 days after entering the territory. But 120 days later, somewhere in France where they were sent after the Paris camp, the prefectures opposed that they did not file an asylum application on time. They were however in the so-called humanitarian center, during this time. They could have filed their file on time! They are then placed in removal proceedings, deprived of their rights to register an application for international protection in France, whether as refugee status or subsidiary protection.

It’s Kafkaesque! This is shameful in a so-called humanitarian center! Human rights are no longer respected.
On the one hand, more and more migrants tell us that when they registered in the CESA, nobody gave them information on the possibility of applying for asylum. On the other hand, the systematic fingerprinting allows the Dublin procedures to be launched quickly. In following weeks, when people want to apply for asylum, this is often too late. They are administratively trapped by notifications informing them the are returned to the previous where their prints were taken. In many cases, registrations in category 1 (illegal situation in the territory) in the “Eurodac” files are not justified and deprive these persons of a rightful examination that they could have benefited if they had first meet the “PADA”, the asylum application organisation. This negative administrative treatment is therefore not respectful of the life choices of migrants and their fundamental rights.

To go further : Here is a Reminder of the Grande Synthe experience and the story of Utopia 56 in the Center of Paris La Chapelle.

At the beginning of 2016, Damien Carème, Grande Synthe’s mayor, entrusted Utopia 56 with the coordination of the first international humanitarian camp, built by Medecins Sans Frontière and the municipality of Grande Synthe, in order to take the 1,500 refugees outside from the Barroch slum. The French State opposed this opening. Utopia 56 has engaged with hundreds of volunteers to accommodate people, secure the highway, secure the children in an open camp between Highway and the railway, open kitchens, fireproof the buildings, install smoke detectors, pacifying groups, communicate with refugees … until the official recognition of the camp by the State. Then, on 7 May 2016, the Minister Bernard Caseneuve signed a agreement between the State, the municipality and another association, excluding our citizens’ association from consultation and decision. In the following weeks, Utopia 56 noted the establishment of

criteria access that excluded vulnerable people, especially women and children. At the end of July, Utopia 56 had announce that the camp would be left by the association after the 1st of October. But the reception conditions continued to deteriorate. And the camp burned down on 11 April 2017, putting hundreds of refugees back into the forest.

Dominique Versini (social affairs deputy mayor in the Paris City Council) and his team, met Utopia 56 in Grande Synthe during a visit to the camp, as part of the preparatory work for the opening of the Center in Paris, and proposed to Utopia 56 to organize with Emmaus, to organize volunteer help there. Since the opening of the Paris Center, on 10th November 2016 volunteers from Utopia 56 work there and provide 40% of the clothing needs of the 16,000 refugees. In the “Big bubble” we took care of the isolated foreign minors to redirect them and take care of the adults (isolated minors who have been refused), organize the night distribution of the blankets, the water, the shelter of the most vulnerable , especially during the cold nights. We have ensured the difficult task of pacifying the external line, helping to coordinate distributions of food outdoors. After the 10th November, it was clear that this center wasn’t big enough and that Anne Hidalgo was right when she called for the opening of 5 other centers in France on the migration road. But today, there are too many dysfunctions so that we can continue working there.

To go further: Our leaders are wrong, the young generation welcomes.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of young people aged between 18 and 35 around the world are in favor of receiving refugees in their country, according to a study published on 29 August by the World Economic Forum.

Almost a quarter (27.3%) even said they would be ready to welcome refugees in their home. “People fleeing violence and persecution around the world have regularly been slammed by the governments of rich countries who claim they cannot help them. The World Economic Forum’s study shows that young people do not agree and are disappointed by the inhumanity of their leaders.”.