In Paris, 400 young migrants occupy a disused school in the 16th arrondissement

by time news

2023-05-16 10:26:39

Amadou Diallo arrived in Paris almost two months ago. He left his country, Guinea, after a long “dreamed of coming to France”. He has hardly been to school and would like to be “footballer”. But he would just as well be satisfied with a job as ” truck driver “ or of ” plumber “. We meet him – a few hundred meters from the Parc des Princes, where his favorite team, PSG, trains – in the courtyard of an elementary school in the 16e district, rue Erlanger, abandoned for several years. It is here that, since April 4, hundreds of young migrants have taken shelter every evening to spend the night, making the place one of the biggest squats of the moment.

Mainly from West Africa, and in particular from Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea or Mali, the young men who occupy the establishment have all tried to be recognized as unaccompanied minors and have all been considered adults by social assistance for children, most often from the department of Paris, or that of Val-de-Marne or even Seine-Saint-Denis. Most have appealed to the juvenile judge.

During the day, Amadou Diallo, who claims to be almost 16 years old, kills time. “I walk, I go on the metro, sometimes I go to charge my phone or connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot”, he said. Towards the end of the day, he and some 400 young people in total fall back on rue Erlanger, where a meal is distributed to them at 8 p.m., provided by the City of Paris. The volunteers of the Utopia 56 association, which has taken over the premises with them, are busy responding to needs, in particular that of cover for newcomers – around ten each day. In the courtyard of the abandoned school, around forty tents have been set up and covered with tarpaulins, for lack of space in the hard buildings, which also have neither running water nor electricity. However, the City of Paris has installed a water point, three urinals and four toilets outside.

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“We thought it was paradise here”

“There are thousands of young people like that in France, gauge Yann Manzi, of Utopia Usually, they are chased away and prevented from setting up their tents. At least here they can sleep. Our objective is to obtain shelter but, for the moment, the State is letting us get bogged down. » At the Paris City Hall, we also point the finger at the inertia of the public authorities. “The building is overcrowded and in a precarious state, there is urgency, emphasizes Ian Brossat, deputy in charge of housing. The City of Paris made more than six months ago a proposal for a site to accommodate some of these young people in recourse, who come under the State. Dedicated accommodations are needed. We have land, let’s do it together, otherwise we will inevitably relive these situations. »

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