The mayors of seven large French cities have appealed to the national government to save them from the ‘social emergency’ of huge numbers of migrants.
By – Iain Burns
Local chiefs from Nantes, Lille, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Rennes, Toulouse and Strasbourg wrote an open letter to Parisian officials to beg for relief from the ‘extreme tension’ caused by the arrival of people seeking a new home.
The mayors – including this year’s presidential hopeful Alain Juppé (from Bordeaux) – explained that there had been a ‘massive rise in the demand for asylum’, with ‘several thousand’ migrants arriving every month.
Writing to Le Monde, they added: ‘A social emergency. An urgent solidarity. [Our cities] are, on this subject as on others, on the front line.
‘We can not, we must not, resign ourselves to the human, social and health drama of uprooting migrants. Every month, several thousand people arrive in our cities.
‘Integrating those recognized as refugees and helping those who have lost their right of asylum who still remain in our territory is a major issue.’
The letter further explained that the crisis – of ‘a proportion never before known’ – was leading to a ‘saturation’ of core services like housing and welfare despite a ‘steady increase’ in arrivals.
It added: ‘The evidence is there, before our eyes, in our streets, in homes and shelters: there is urgency.’
Their request is for a ‘solidarity network’ between major French cities as a means of addressing the migrant crisis with unity.
They also asked for a major scheme to deal with the arrivals to be financed properly to allow for a ‘real plan of reception’ for migrants.
The country’s Ministry of the Interior responded to the letter by putting forward a 20,000-home resettlement plan for migrants by the end of 2018, AFP reported.
It promised a ‘balanced distribution’ across France’s regions, with private and public landlords being ‘mobilised’ to help the project.
As well as this, ‘mobile teams’ have been asked to identify migrants being housed in emergency accommodation.
The letter comes just over a year after the relocation of several thousands migrants from the Calais Jungle in Northern France.