Hundreds of refugees living rough in Paris, many of whom hoped to reach the UK, claim they have been subject to abuse from French citizens, including physical attacks and sexual violence, according to new research.
From a sample of almost 300 refugees – around 10% of the 2,950 migrants sleeping rough in the French capital – it emerged that 42% of respondents did not feel safe.
The study was conducted by London-based human rights charity Refugee Rights Europe and is one of the largest independent studies of refugees stranded in Paris. It found that 75% of respondents said they had experienced verbal abuse by French citizens, most usually racial abuse.
One 29-year-old from Sudan said: “They told me: ‘You can’t be here. You make it dirty here. This place is full of you and we are fed up.’ ”
The study, published this week, also reveals that a fifth of respondents claimed they had suffered physical violence by Parisians, while 5% stated that they had experienced sexual abuse from French citizens.
More than one in 10 said they knew at least one refugee who had died while stranded in Paris. One 29-year-old man from Afghanistan told researchers: “I have known many people who died here. They killed themselves. It is because of the bad life here.”
When questioned in late January, a group of refugees said they had witnessed a refugee die days earlier after throwing himself into the Seine.
The number of migrants living in Paris rose in October 2016 after authorities demolished the camp known as the Jungle in Calais. Thousands moved to makeshift camps on the streets in Paris with many reluctant to claim asylum in France because they want to settle in the UK.
More than a third of respondents also said they had faced police violence, with 86% stating they had experienced tear gas. Respondents described how police would spray tear gas into their tents at night while they were sleeping, while others explained how officers had destroyed their tents. Among those interviewed were 58 children, many of whom remain on the street despite claiming to be, or having been accepted as, underage.
A number were eligible to enter the UK legally, but because of a lack of information had not applied to be reunited with their relatives in Britain under an EU transfer scheme.
Categories: The Muslim Times