During a stormy neighborhood meeting on Monday about the Green Mountain asylum seekers’ camp, citizens challenged the elected officials of the City of Strasbourg. They urgently ask for the accommodation of migrants and, in the meantime, the installation of a water point, toilets and the collection of their waste. The assistants to the town hall incriminating the State, responsible for emergency accommodation. Reporting.
“But how is it possible, that in a city like Strasbourg, there can be children outside, on our doorstep, and that the authorities do nothing? », Protests a woman. “I’ll tell the elected officials! », She assures. The atmosphere is trendy. About 70 people are crowded, on this evening of Monday, September 6, in the small room of the Saint Arbogast cultural center. They respond to the call of the Portes de la Montagne Verte neighborhood association for a meeting about the asylum seekers camp, installed since the end of July at the start of the Schirmeck road.
Elected officials are present to answer questions from residents. Pierre Ozenne, deputy mayor in charge of public space, briefly presents the situation:
“The camp grew very quickly. Today, we count around 100 people divided into 21 families from Eastern Europe, 15 of which are seeking asylum. The others fall under other procedures. For example, following a refusal of their asylum application, they can appeal the decision to the administrative court. We approached the préfecture so that all these people could be accommodated, but we did not receive an answer. “
“It’s not complicated to install a dry toilet”
The latter then offers residents to intervene. About ten hands go up immediately. And five people, successively, question the elected officials about the lack of sanitation and water point. A woman in her forties does not hide her anger:
“There are three pregnant women, fifty children, sick people… It is not complicated to install a dry toilet. In a month, you could have done it. And their garbage is hardly collected. There are already rats. It is indecent. All of this is the responsibility of the City. We expect a quick response from you. “
During her campaign to become mayor of Strasbourg, Jeanne Barseghian had, moreover, engaged to “quickly put in place […] water points, toilets, and good waste collection for the camps ”. Pierre Ozenne recognizes “too slow an implementation” and promises that everything will be installed soon. Asked about the precise deadline, Floriane Varieras, deputy mayor in charge of solidarity, replies that “companies are mandated, and that it will be as quickly as possible, certainly within the week”.
“Asylum seekers have the right to housing, it is enshrined in the law”
A 50-year-old man worries about “the sustainability of the place”: “There, it looks like you are assuming that the camp will be established over time. Floriane Varieras retorts that it is a question of “responding to the urgency of the dignity of people, but that the main thing is obviously that everyone is quickly accommodated”. She recalls that it is the State which is in charge of emergency accommodation. A man hits the table with his fist and shouts:
“But it’s always the same! It is never your fault. You have no answer to give. Yet there are empty homes, empty hotels, and next door people sleeping outside. We should find solutions between citizens, rather than waiting for something chosen from you! “
THE’State to well competence Housing and especially the budget to house the homeless. Floriane Variéras can only recall “the proactive policy of the City of Strasbourg”, which wants to allocate, every year, 3 million euros of its budget to add 500 emergency accommodation places to the overall system:
“We have already created 200 places since the start of the mandate, 100 more will open at the end of September, and we will probably place people from the Montagne Verte camp. The bottom line is that the state is not doing its job. Asylum seekers have right to housing, it’s written into law. “
Floriane Varieras, deputy mayor in charge of solidarity.
The state singled out by elected officials
A man at the front of the room abounds: “It is this system of asylum application, with lengthy administrative procedures that is causing the problem. Without papers, refugees cannot work, and have no way of accessing housing. They are dependent on the state, which does not house them. “” But how to convince the State? »Asks a young woman. The deputy mayor replied that she could write to the prefect. Another person proposes to hold a “demonstration” or “to set up tents in front of the prefecture”.
According to Floriane Varieras, the Horizon Amitié and Foyer Notre Dame associations have places available in their reception centers for asylum seekers (CADA). According to the deputy director of the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII) of the Grand Est, 12% of the 10,000 places for asylum seekers in the Grand-Est region are vacant. And it is precisely the OFII which is supposed to direct applicants for accommodation. It will therefore be difficult for this state service to retort that there is no room. Pierre Ozenne insists: “We are in the same position as you. We are campaigning with the prefecture so that there is support. “
The heat is more and more heavy in the room. A woman is offended by the fact that a solution has been found “so quickly for the Afghan refugees” housed in Strasbourg at the end of August, following the Taliban takeover in their country: “It’s good for them. But I can’t help but see the injustice to other asylum seekers. “Floriane Varieras adds that” during the pandemic, the number of people on the street has dropped dramatically, because the government has put in place an ambitious policy. “It is therefore” clearly a lack of will of the State if these people are in the street “, she adds:” We have the means to accommodate these people. “
A feeling of helplessness
Local residents also discuss the location of the camp, which they consider dangerous for children, due to its proximity to a busy road. They propose to move a quantity of meters, on a larger and secure wasteland that belongs to the City. Elected officials ensure that they take note. A woman asks if the children are in school. Floriane Varieras replies that some of them will be educated but that we will have to wait to find out where they will be housed for the affectionate in adapted schools.
Finally, almost all of the speeches are in favor of helping these asylum seekers. Some also regret that they were not present at the meeting. Only one man claims: “We could first focus on the French before trying to help the foreigners. He is reprimanded by much of the room.
A member of the Strasbourg Action Solidarité association educates the assembly on the needs for sofas, baby products and habits. Many volunteers contact him to organize their donations. Around 8:30 p.m., Pierre Ozenne was forced to put an end to the meeting, the room was reserved for another activity in the wake. Many people say they are frustrated with the situation. “It makes me sick to see the welcome we give to these people. I want to help, to campaign for them, ”confides a man as he leaves.