Geneva - We are immensely concerned by reports about two shelters in Essonne and Pantin, France removing their non-European residents to make way for Ukrainian refugees, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement today. Such policies are discriminatory, inhumane, and must be promptly reversed.
Last week, nearly fifty young foreigners from Guinea, Mali, and Afghanistan were reportedly informed by the prefecture that they would be imminently kicked out of their shelter in Essonne to make way for incoming Ukrainian refugees. Without being provided an alternative, the youth, some of whom are minors, said they would end up homeless. This has led to the disruption of educational activities attended by the youth in question as well as threatening their general well-being and mental health. The incident comes shortly after 60 Afghans have reportedly been kicked out of their shelter in the Ibis hotel in Pantin in order to clear space for Ukrainian refugees.
Similarly, in Germany, many asylum seekers, including entire families, have been relocated from their shelters to provisional reception centers to make way for Ukrainian refugees without the opportunity to object or appeal the decision. Several asylum seekers of mainly non-European origins have complained that the alternative accommodation they were given is smaller in size and located far away from their children’s schools. At least one family complained about being separated and divided into two shelters.
While Ukrainian refugees certainly deserve protections provided under the EU charter and International Humanitarian Law, including housing and shelter, this should by no means come at the expense of other vulnerable groups, particularly asylum seekers and youth in desperate need of shelter.
“Nothing justifies the treatment of some refugees or asylum seekers as more deserving of shelter than others,” Ramy Abdu, Euro-Med Monitor chairman, said. “Rendering some vulnerable groups homeless or forcibly relocating them to make way for Ukrainian refugees is a discriminatory policy that violates the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, particularly the right to adequate housing, as well as article 31 of the European Social Charter.”
Euro-Med Monitor warns EU member states against undertaking any discriminatory policies that favor some refugees at the expense of others. We call on French authorities to promptly reverse the termination of shelter to the young foreigners in Essonne as well as the 60 Afghans in Pantin and similarly call on German authorities to revise the relocation of asylum seekers in reception centers and to ensure adequate housing for Ukrainian refugees without violating the rights of others.