French NGOs, academics call for dignified reception for all exiled people

French NGOs, academics call for dignified reception for all exiled people

Letter addressed to future members of National Assembly, which will take charge on June 22

By Shweta Desai

PARIS (AA) - Several civil rights NGOs, activists, and academics have jointly published an open letter Thursday, requesting future lawmakers to adopt immediate and lasting measures for the dignified reception of all exiles into France.

“We propose to the future National Assembly to embark on the path (of a dignified and unconditional welcome), by adopting, upon its election, immediate and lasting measures for the reception of exiles, whose arrivals are not likely to decrease in the coming years,” said the letter, as quoted by French public service broadcaster France Info.

The letter was published by over 20 non-profit associations including Emmaus France, Refugee Camps Observatory, Salvation Army Foundation, Pantin Solidaire and Famille France-Humanite, and 40 academics and researchers.

It is addressed to the future members of the National Assembly, which will take charge on June 22. Legislative elections in France are scheduled to be held on June 12, and June 19 to elect 577 members of the 16th National Assembly.

The letter's signatories noted the alarming living conditions of asylum seekers and refugees, particularly in the Paris region of Ile-de-France, which “illustrate the inadequacy of our reception and integration policies.”

They pointed out the “exceptional measures” “combined with an unprecedented surge of solidarity,” to welcome the 85,000 displaced Ukrainians in contrast to the discrimination towards non-European refugees. “All exiled persons must be able to benefit from reception conditions commensurate with their protection needs,” they underlined.

They have demanded that incoming lawmakers change the legislative framework to increase the accommodation capacity by tens of thousands, offer universal health care protection, improve access to professional and university training, and allow all asylum seekers and refugees to work as soon as they submit their application.

Public authorities in France have failed to provide adequate accommodation support to the undocumented exiled people forcing thousands to sleep homeless on the streets without any financial support. The European Court of Human Rights in 2020 had condemned France for the “inhuman and degrading living conditions” and ordered it to compensate three homeless asylum-seekers.

Any person in danger in their own country can apply for protection as an asylum seeker. In France, the first step is to register oneself at the authorized reception structure, however, the process is obstructed by a large number of undocumented asylum seekers who are deterred, turned away, and even forcefully deported by the law enforcement, forcing them to camp illegally in inhuman conditions.

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