Urgent communication to seven UN Special Rapporteurs regarding France’s COVID-19 response

We are delighted to have supported the issuing of an urgent communication to seven UN Special Rapporteurs concerning the treatment of persons without access to adequate housing during the COVID-19 pandemic in France.

The Committee for Refugee Relief, alongside Refugee Rights Europe and 91 organisations, have made a submission to 7 UN Special Rapporteurs to alert them, and the wider public, on the critical situation facing people living on the streets, in squats, slums and settlements in France. The critical pre-existing risks facing these groups of people are heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In northern France, up to 1,500 displaced people, including unaccompanied minors, families, women and men, are living in camps and settlements, suffering from unequal access to health services, water and sanitation, food – and are left without adequate housing. As they do not fully benefit from the preventive measures put in place by the government and local authorities to prevent the spread of the virus, they are particularly at risk within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, asylum desks of préfectures (PADA) are closed throughout France, preventing people from claiming asylum and therefore being legally authorised to stay in France and accessing basic services such as housing, healthcare and subsidies, in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1951.

Finally, the situation of human rights defenders, and other organisations that support vulnerable people, has been greatly compromised by the Government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic, due to the lack of protective equipment, and excessive verbalisations.

Our joint urgent communication calls on the seven Special Rapporteurs to remind the French state to take and implement effective and protective measures, in the interest of all.


Photo credit: Human Rights Observers

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