France to add 10,500 hous­ing places for mi­grants, says In­te­rior Min­istry

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

France un­veiled plans on Wed­nes­day to add 10,500 ad­di­tional hous­ing spots for mi­grants as Euro­pean na­tions grap­ple with how to han­dle a wave of peo­ple cross­ing the Mediter­ranean.

The gov­ern­ment plans 5,000 hous­ing units for peo­ple granted asy­lum in France, 4,000 for asy­lum seek­ers and 1,500 emer­gency slots for illegal im­mi­grants.

France’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said the gov­ern­ment aimed to cre­ate “ad­di­tional hous­ing spots for those thrown into ex­ile by per­se­cu­tion, abuse, im­pris­on­ment and ex­e­cu­tion.”

“France is do­ing its part,” he in­sisted, amid a spat with neigh­bor­ing Italy, which has urged its fel­low EU coun­tries to do more to ease the bur­den.

In seven years, the num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers has nearly dou­bled in France to reach more than 66,000 cases in 2013.

As a re­sult, there is a se­vere lack of hous­ing fa­cil­i­ties and half of all asy­lum seek­ers have to fend for them­selves, re­sort­ing to liv­ing in slums, squats or sleep­ing rough.

Pro­cess­ing these asy­lum re­quests takes an av­er­age of two years, and leg­is­la­tion pro­posed in July aimed to shorten the wait to nine months by 2017, giv­ing author­i­ties deal­ing with the cases more fund­ing and staff.

The man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of France Terre d’Asile, a group rep­re­sent­ing asy­lum

seek­ers, greeted the news cau­tiously.

“It is a sweep­ing plan of a type that has never been put into place un­til now,” said Pierre Henry.

He added the in­crease in hous­ing would re­quire close vig­i­lance as the plan will in­volve a va­ri­ety of play­ers from around the coun­try.

The an­nounce­ment comes as Italy has been in­creas­ingly ap­ply­ing pres­sure to other Euro­pean Union na­tions to take in their share of the waves of mi­grants ar­riv­ing on its shores.

But at a meet­ing Tues­day in Lux­em­bourg, Euro­pean in­te­rior min­is­ters failed to reach an agree­ment on car­ry­ing out pro­pos­als by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for quo­tas to re­dis­tribute mi­grants through­out the bloc.

AP

A fa­ther gives his son to a Coast Guard of­fi­cer, sec­ond left, as he dis­em­barks from a ves­sel at the port of Mity­lene af­ter be­ing picked up by the Greek Coast Guard near the north­east Greek is­land of Lesvos on Wed­nes­day, June 17.

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