In Paris, northern France and at the border with Italy, migrants and refugees encounter policies and practices aimed at preventing them from settling or claiming their rights. Forced to hide from the authorities, they are increasingly invisible to the local population. This leaves them vulnerable to abuse and violence.
In 2017, MSF ran primary healthcare mobile clinics and regular outreach activities in Paris, where more than 1,000 refugees and migrants were sleeping rough on the streets, constantly hassled at night by the authorities. MSF teams provided around 2,500 consultations through mobile clinics and donated 32,000 blankets and sleeping bags in Paris and Calais, in addition to other basic essential items. In January and February, MSF also provided emergency accommodation to 2,000 people, the vast majority of whom were minors.
Unaccompanied minors are among the most vulnerable, often arriving alone in France after arduous journeys, and having to deal with a lack of information, inadequate reception facilities and a maze of administrative bureaucracy making it impossible for them to even register their claims. Some manage to apply for child protection and, if recognised as minors, are looked after by children’s services. But those whose claims are turned down are excluded from the legal system and denied any further assistance.
In December, MSF opened a day centre in Pantin, in the suburbs of Paris, to offer unaccompanied minors respite, medical care, and social and administrative support. In cooperation with several associations and lawyers, MSF teams follow up each individual case.
MSF also monitors the situation across the country, with a specific focus on northern and southeastern France. Teams provide assistance either directly or by supporting other organisations already active on the ground.