Posts

Examining Disability and Poverty in FranceDisability is affecting 12 million people in France. Limited mobility and sensation not only prevents disabled people from normal daily and professional life but they also lead to a higher risk of poverty. According to Eurostat, disability and poverty in France go hand in hand. In 2018, 21% of the French population over 16 years old with a disability were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared with less than 15% of those with no limitation. This considerable gap exists across the European Union, although the proportion of each member state varies significantly. On average, the possibility for a disabled EU citizen to suffer from poverty is about 10% greater than that of their counterparts.

Governmental Policies

In 2018, the French government rolled out a comprehensive and interministerial policy to increase resources available to the disabled population and to improve their living conditions. This policy embraced housing, health, education, work, transport as well as access to culture, sport and recreational activities. In the following five years, the government determined to provide disabled people with a preferential allocation of social housing for rent, develop health prevention among disabled people and enhance the status of healthcare workers and reduce the gap between the unemployment rate among citizens with disabilities and non-disabled people.

Allowance for Disabled Adults (AAH)

Regarding the correlation between disability and poverty in France, the French government has already achieved its 2019 goal of increasing the Allowance for disabled adults (Allocation aux adultes handicapés/ AAH) to €900 per month. AAH is a minimum-income awarded to people over 20 years old with severe disabilities rated by the Committee for the Rights and Self-dependency of Disabled Persons (CDAPH).

A French resident with a disability severity rating of at least 80% can benefit from AAH for a period of one to 10 years, depending on each particular case. For those rated between 50% and 79% with a substantial reduction of access to employment, they are eligible for AAH for one to five years. As of 2020, the maximum AAH is €902.70 per month, with annual income ceilings of around €11,000 for a person living alone and around €20,000 for a couple.

Facilities and Mobilities

French law requires that all new buildings and existing public buildings must be adapted and accessible to people with disabilities. The transformations have to take some time, yet large cities such as Paris and Lyon and some popular touristic regions have become much more accessible in recent years. For example, all buses in Paris are now equipped with platforms facilitating passengers with limited ability to get on and off more easily. Additionally, any disabled resident of France can request a carte mobilité inclusion (CMI) that grants them priority access to seating in public transport and free parking.

Although the government and social organizations are taking various actions to improve the well-being of people with disabilities and poverty in France, the current situation is hardly satisfying. Joncour, a 19-year-old university student and non-verbal autistic, complains that the departmental home for people with disabilities (MDPH) can only grant him three hours a day of subsidized personal assistance. The remaining hours cost the family about €1,000 per month so that he can go to class and have a normal life like his peers. This expense has enormously impacted the daily life of the family and sadly drove them to a precarious position. There is still a long way to go to improve the living standards of those with disabilities and poverty in France. Hopefully, after the five-year term of the new policies, the living conditions of disabled people will significantly improve in France.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Z EventEven though the world is more connected than ever, poverty remains a large problem as many people are left behind. Fortunately, the internet has been used as a platform for change, resulting in unprecedented awareness of global poverty. One example of this is Z Event, a French charity project hosted annually on the live streaming website Twitch. Z Event started with just two people who wanted global change. The video gaming event has been shattering world records and raising millions of dollars for charity.

Twitch Live Stream Platform

Z Event would not have been possible without the rise of the Twitch platform. Twitch is a website that people can use for live streaming. This means that whatever viewers are watching is happening in real-time. This creates a new world of interactivity. While Twitch was originally created for live streaming video games, the website has now expanded into other genres like art, music and chess. Twitch now has a massive following, with over 140 million monthly users.

It was only a matter of time before content creators used Twitch as a platform to raise money for charity. In July 2013, Summer Games Done Quick raised $257,181 for Doctors Without Borders in a charity stream on Twitch. As Twitch started growing in popularity, charity streams became even more popular. In 2019, Twitch streamer “DrLupo”, raised more than $2.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 24 hours.

Video Gaming: Z Event

With the success of charity streams in the past and the increasing global presence of Twitch, the time was right for Z Event. In March 2016, a charity stream called “Avengers Project” raised 170,000 euros for Save the Children. The goal of the project was to gather every popular French streamer to raise awareness for certain issues. While the project started small, the annual event grew considerably. In 2017, the now named “Z Event” raised 500,000 euros. Z Event is the annual charity event by French streamers ZeratoR and Dach. As the project grew larger, more popular French streamers joined the event. In 2020, 41 Twitch streamers participated in the event.

Video Gaming for a Cause

While each individual streamer is popular on their own, their platform increases exponentially when combined. In 2020, the event had an average of 248 thousand viewers with a peak of nearly 700 thousand viewers. This large amount of awareness led to large sums of money raised for charity. In 2019, Z Event hit the world record for most money raised in a charity stream on Twitch, over 3.5 million euros. In 2020, Z Event shattered its own record, raising over 5.7 million euros, which is approximately $6.7 million.

Each year, the event raises money for a different cause. The money raised in 2019 was for the Pasteur Institute, a nonprofit organization that researches diseases. In 2020, Z Event raised money for Amnesty International, an organization focused on global human rights.

Video Gamers Uniting for Charity

These efforts have been applauded by many. Mark Hamill supported Z Event on Twitter and President of France, Emmanuel Macron has also commended the project.

While poverty remains a problem in the world today, the growing platform of the internet along with websites like Twitch show significant promise. Millions of dollars have been raised for charity to fight poverty. France’s Z Event shows that when people come together, the impact is substantial.

– Evan Weber
Photo: Flickr

Top 6 Facts about Child Poverty in FranceChildren are among the first victims of poverty. Even in France, one of the world’s most affluent countries, child poverty is still a serious issue today, if not an increasingly urgent emergency. Here are six facts about child poverty in France.

6 Things to Know about Child Poverty in France

  1. According to a 2015 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one out of five children under 18 years old in France live below the poverty line. This means that more than three million children in France suffer from their parents’ financial weakness and live on less than about €1000 per month, with many of them actually living on much less. This statistic is astonishing especially considering that the total population of poverty in France was 8.8 million in 2017.
  2. In France, 20% of households have difficulties paying for their children’s meals at the school canteen. To cope with this problem, French President Emmanuel Macron announced an €8 billion national anti-poverty plan in September 2018. As a result of this plan, primary schools provided free breakfast to the poorest students as well as subsidized lunches for €1 each in the school canteen.
  3. Child poverty in France is closely related to single-parent families who usually lack financial sources than the rest of the population. One-third of impoverished children live in single-parent families, especially those made up of single women and children. As of 2018, single mothers are among the most affected by poverty in France, before immigrants and elderly people. The fraught financial situation and high educational expenses have sadly led some young women to pay for their children’s studies through prostitution. The students’ union SUD Etudient estimated in 2006 that the number of single mothers struggling to pay for their children’s’ education was around 40,000 and continues to rise.
  4. The impoverished family background may reproduce further inequalities in education and employment. According to the 2015 UNICEF report, 140,000 children were dropping out of school each year. UNICEF also criticized France’s educational system, in which children from unprivileged families have less chance to enter universities, for failing to gear up social mobility and widening the gap between the rich and the poor instead. It estimated that it takes six generations for children born in impoverished families to attain an average income in France.
  5. There are about 30,000 children in France who are homeless and 9,000 who live in slums, many of whom are foreigners without legal status. The charitable organization Secours Catholique, which helps more than 67,000 impecunious people in need in France, claims that more than 40% of the families they assisted are immigrants, and only less than half of them have legal status in France. As a result, they do not have the right to work or benefit from social welfare.
  6. Nevertheless, thanks to its social service and healthcare, France remains one of the countries with the lowest child mortality rates despite its issue of child poverty. In fact, the 4% rate of child mortality in France is the same as that in Germany, Spain and Italy, lower than 6% in Canada and 8% in the United States.

These six facts about child poverty in France shed light on the growing poverty problem in a country that is as wealthy as France. However, by shedding light on child poverty in France the government and charity organizations will work to alleviate youth poverty in its early stages.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr 

The Growing Concern of Elderly Poverty in FranceSince the early 1970s, the mean standard of living for senior citizens above 65 years old in France has significantly improved. Complying with the guidelines that the second U.N. World Assembly on Aging (WAA) in 2002 and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging (MIPAA) brought up, France keeps implementing aging policies that focus on the health and well-being of elderly people, their participation and benefits in the social development and a more enabling and supportive environment. However, elderly poverty in France remains a socioeconomic issue. As of 2012, 17.5% of French people are over 65 years old, whereas working-age people between 15 and 64 take up 63.8% of the total population. A 2019 study reported that around one out of 10 elderly people in France lives in poverty, which is to say, there are now more than one million French people of old age living below the poverty threshold.

Wealthier than the Younger Population

Although elderly poverty in France is a significant issue, senior French citizens are not the most susceptible group to poverty. The elderly population is far behind young adults, females and immigrants in terms of one’s risk of poverty. The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported that in 2015, elderly people over 65 years old are not only half as likely to fall into the lowest-earning 10% as their counterparts between the ages of 25 and 64, but their proportion among the lowest-earning 20% also decreases in the 21st century.

Such situations are the comprehensive outcome of more continuous career and higher wages, higher retirement pensions, mandatory supplementary schemes and so on. They also have more time and opportunity for inheritance and savings, and their forms of resources are less sensitive to economic fluctuations. As such, it is not too hard to understand why the mean standard of living for elderly people is 3% higher than that for the younger generations in France.

Health Status

Yet despite accumulated wealth, health status deteriorates remarkably with age, which may cause extra expenses that Social Security does not cover and lead to elderly poverty in France. In 2015, 43% of French people over 65 years old endured at least one long-term illness, and the percentage keeps rising over the years.

When the deterioration in health causes a partial loss of autonomy and home care is no longer suitable, the elderly people have to live in an institutional setting such as a nursing home, and this would be another large expense that many are not able or not willing to afford. Only fewer than 2% of people aged below 75 live in a nursing institution, and for those over 85 years old, the number climbs to ten times higher.

The Incoming Challenge of Population Aging

As the problem of population aging is becoming increasingly serious in Europe, it is too early for the elderly to be too optimistic. In 2012, there were 15 million French people aged over 60 years old, and this number is expected to reach 24 million in 50 years, alongside the extended life expectancy. Over the last decade, more people went into retirement, and there were 5% of elderly people aged between 65 and 74 still in employment, many of whom were part-time employees with low qualifications, shopkeepers and older farmers.

The French government has to adjust the retirement pension and health care policies to ensure the well-being of old age. So far various actions are underway, but the results are far from satisfying. For instance, a large national strike began in December 2019 to protest against President Macron’s pension system reform. The government must take into consideration the growing elderly poverty in France and actively work to alleviate poverty rates with policies and financial support.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in FranceMenstruation shame and period poverty have become hot topics in France in recent years. Monthly tampons, pads and menstrual pain medications can be a heavy financial burden for an impoverished woman. As Règles élémentaires, a leading charitable association fighting against period poverty in France estimates, a woman has to spend around €10,000 to €20,000 on menstrual products in her lifetime.

Multiple campaigns took place in the early 2010s to appeal for more affordable sanitary products, mainly by calling for the lowering of the tampon tax. At the time, tampons were taxed as a luxury item, at 20%. In 2016, France became the first country in Europe to reduce the tampon tax to 5.5%. This brought menstrual products in line with other primary-need products such as shampoo or toilet paper.

The Labour Code in France states that an employer must “provide workers with the means to ensure their individual cleanliness.” However, according to the French Institute for Public Opinion (IFOP), there are still 1.7 million French women suffering from period poverty in 2019.

Feminist Organizations

Règles élémentaires has been collecting hygiene products for impoverished women in need since 2015. It is the first French association that fights against period poverty as well as menstrual taboo. The success of this association soon inspired many more initiatives in France to address period poverty. For instance, a grocery store at Paris-Diderot University offers sanitary products at only 10% of the selling price to students with economic difficulties.

The student health insurance company, La Mutuelle Des Étudiants (LMDE) started to include sanitary protection reimbursement for up to €20-25 per year. A women’s health charity, ADSF, distributes sanitary kits to women in need. This especially targets homeless shelters where women are often too reluctant to ask for them. “We now know that sanitary pads must be included in the kits distributed at shelters – and not just razors, as used to be the case when people associated homelessness with males only,” the group explains.

Government Policies

The feminist organizations and their activities gradually brought period poverty to the government’s attention. Two members of France’s National Assembly drafted a 107-page report on how to lift menstrual taboos and alleviate period poverty. After the report, Gender Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa and her colleague Christelle Dubos announced in early 2020 that the French government will carry out a one-year trial of free distribution of hygienic products for women in schools, hospitals, shelters and prisons. The budget will be €1 million. The initiative will start in the Île-de-France region as soon as the end of October 2020. In the first phase of the experiment, the region has chosen 31 high schools based on their overall percentage of female students and scholarship recipients. The regional government will provide these chosen schools free organic sanitary products and dispensers.

French menstrual activists are still advocating that social security should cover all menstrual products, as it does for condoms. They have also devised a plan of vouchers and pre-paid cards for women in need to make their own intimate choices, rather than the government deciding which product they should receive.  While great strides have been made to alleviate the financial burden and social stigma as it pertains to periods, there is much more to do to further alleviate period poverty in France.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

parliamentary governmentsA parliamentary government is a system of governance that ensures democratic ideals. National parliamentary governments create laws for its citizens, while international parliamentary institutions govern globalization.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

National parliamentary governments create laws for their nation that applies to citizens. International parliamentary institutions are organizations that allow officials to represent their country in worldly discussions and bring awareness to global problems.

A parliament is a democratic system of government. A national parliament is a means in which a country governs its people and creates laws. More countries have started actively participating in international parliaments due to globalization. An international parliament does not have the power to govern countries but instead uses diplomacy to influence world governments.

What is a Parliamentary Government?

Great Britain laid the groundwork for a parliamentary system in the 1200s, and today more than 51 countries use parliamentary governments to represent citizens and pass laws.

A select number of parliamentary governments, such as Great Britain, are aligned with a monarchy. In a constitutional monarchy, a king or queen is the head of state but retains no political power. A few governments, such as France, are a hybrid of both a presidential system and a parliamentary system.

The main feature of parliamentary governments is the power of the legislative branch and the inclusion of the executive branch. Most parliamentary governments have a two-chamber or bicameral procedure to pass laws, although some may have a unicameral parliament. Citizens directly elect members of parliament; however, citizens do not elect the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is voted into office by the party who obtains the majority of members of parliament. The Prime Minister is the executive leader, who also participates in legislative lawmaking activities. This is different from a presidential system, in which the legislative branch and the executive branch are separate.

A parliamentary system is known to be effective due to its accountability and responsiveness. If the majority party becomes disliked, the Prime Minister can instantly be removed with a vote. This holds members of parliament responsible for their actions. Within a presidency, the system of checks and balances may result in gridlock. The power of the legislative branch in a parliamentary system results in a faster way to pass laws.

Growth of International Parliamentary Institutions

The number of international parliamentary institutions is growing, as the world becomes more interconnected. The first international parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was established in 1889. Later, the aftermath of World War II resulted in the need to resolve conflicts peacefully. The idea of international parliamentary institutions became a means to represent a country and its concerns, on a world stage. Currently, there are around 70 International Parliamentary Systems.

As globalization becomes more prevalent, international parliamentary institutions play a greater role in global affairs. It can be challenging for an ordinary citizen to voice their concerns to other countries. With international parliamentary institutions, parliamentarians represent their citizens globally.

International parliamentary institutions create awareness of global issues. Global issues include “environmental problems, nuclear disarmament, corruption, women’s rights, and population growth”. When these universal problems produce national concerns, countries collaborate with one another or with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through international parliamentary institutions. This builds new relationships to solve matters, and country representatives then counsel their national governments. Although most international parliamentary institutions cannot enforce laws on nations, creating awareness brings societal change. Citizens who acknowledge these international issues can advocate for new laws within their own government.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the European Union Parliament are examples of highly influential international parliamentary institutions. Currently, the United Nations is proposing the idea of an international parliamentary assembly, so all countries can participate in policymaking with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

This article highlights why national governments and international institutions favor a parliamentary system. National parliaments are successful in promoting democracy in governments. As the world becomes more connected, international parliamentary institutions serve as a forum between governments to solve global problems and ensure peacekeeping.

– Hannah Nelson 
Photo: Flickr

radicalization in refugeesRefugees are a part of society in every country. Global interconnectivity has provided refugees more opportunities to escape the persecution they have experienced in their home countries. However, that same interconnectivity doesn’t always extend to the small communities where the refugees end up living. Isolation and poverty can sometimes lead to desperation and radicalization in refugees.

Social Cohesion

Social cohesion, as defined in BMC Medicine, “is the ability of a given society to be inclusive of all cultural and social groups, so that they work cooperatively.” A willingness to cooperate with one another has many benefits, including the promotion of healthier and more just communities with lower violent crime rates. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. In a world that is so politically, culturally and historically diverse, these differences can sometimes seem to build barriers.

Indeed, many factors exist that can undermine social cohesion, including both social and economic isolation as well as discrimination. Marginalized members of society, specifically refugees and immigrants, are most commonly impacted. These populations often arrive in their host countries not able to speak the language and with limited support systems.  Social isolation frequently leads to economic isolation, meaning that refugees and immigrants are at a higher risk of falling into poverty.

Moreover, discrimination often faced by marginalized communities can further undermine social cohesion and is commonly linked with poorer health and unemployment. The negative impacts not only hurt these members but prevent them from contributing to the economy, affecting the community as a whole. Overall, communities that prioritize social inclusion and cultural understanding breed healthier societies and citizens.

Radicalization in Refugees

According to the 2017 IEP’s Global Terrorism Index, terrorism cost the world an estimated $84 billion in 2016. In addition, 77 countries reported at least one death as a result of terrorism, and 106 countries reportedly suffered at least one terrorist attack. Overall, Europe and other developed countries have seen a spike in levels of violence. With an ever-evolving terrorism landscape, more home-grown terrorists are perpetrating attacks using new methods. The nature of this ever-evolving threat means that terrorism persists as a major global issue. For this reason, the identification of isolation and discrimination as risk factors for violent radicalization is especially important in preventing violence.

Youth populations are most vulnerable to succumbing to violent ideologies since adolescence is an extremely formative period for identity. Living in poor social conditions can weaken links with socially inclusive networks, making way for new spheres of influence. Ideologically driven groups associated with violent radicalization often monopolize on this opportunity to offer an alienated member of society the chance to belong. For this reason, terrorist groups often target younger populations for new recruits, as they are the most vulnerable.

Thus far, most counterterrorism efforts have put an emphasis on the criminal justice system. This means focusing almost exclusively on those who are already planning on committing a crime and not on prevention. Not only may this partial focus be inhibiting success, but in some cases, it has further encouraged radicalization in refugees by singling out specific religious groups. If behavioral sciences like psychology and sociology are used in public health programs to prevent violence, couldn’t counterterrorism efforts similarly follow this example? 

Preventing Radicalization in Refugees

A new-wave of counterterrorism efforts can offer a new perspective on how to prevent violent threats through better comprehension of human complexity. Focusing on understanding individuals’ demographics, stories and culture in order to better employ protective factors, like social support programs, would be monumental. Furthermore, crafting programs that promote trust and integration is key. By creating safe environments for all demographics and cultures, risk factors for violent radicalization in refugees can be reduced and, hopefully, eradicated.

France is one of the first countries to apply this approach. In 2017 alone, 100,755 people requested asylum in France. For this reason, President Emanuel Macron’s administration has taken steps to aide new refugees and immigrants to integrate into their new host country through a community service program called Volont’r.

The program, launched in January 2019, aims to teach young refugees (between the ages of 16 and 25) about French values, language and culture through immersion. Refugees are given the opportunity to earn a living and to learn French through government-sponsored classes. The program also plans to recruit 1,500 French citizens to help guide 500 refugees to set and meet personal goals and to build networks.

Volont’r is an example of successfully addressing key risk factors for radicalization in refugees by using a public health approach. New refugees are no longer left in isolation because of a language barrier and a lack of social connections. Falling into poverty is prevented by providing tools for employment.

Learning Social Cohesion

Vulnerable populations must be given the opportunity to learn the codes of their new society, promoting integration into an environment where they are heard and understood. In an ever more globally connected world, France believes that building relationships, not walls, is the key to making the world a healthier and safer place. This is an important lesson all countries could benefit from not only for the health and safety of its refugee population but also to reduce the instances of radicalization in refugees.

Natalie Abdou
Photo: Flickr

poverty in FrancePoverty in France is rising once again, creating a larger financial gap between citizens. The poverty rate in France is around 14 percent, totaling 8.7 million people, according to a COMPAS study in 2012. Border towns are seeing percentages closer to 49 percent, while wealthier cities have rates as low as 7 percent.

In 2012, some metropolitan areas saw higher rates of poverty. The inequality gaps were most obvious in Paris, Hauts-de-Seine and Haute-Savoie. Single parents, large families and young family households had the highest rates of poverty in France.

This escalation of poverty in France is concerning in regards to the percentage of children that are living under the poverty line. 8.8 percent of children are living in a household that makes less than 50 percent of the national median income. This is an increase to three million children in France living under the poverty line.

Education, health and social and professional integration are areas of concern regarding children in France. Migrant children are deprived of most of these basic rights, living in slums and experiencing more severe discrimination and no ability to gain French aid. Children in these impoverished households in France lack a way out of poverty, leaving it up to the state to provide aid.

In 1989, France adopted the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) resolution which drew a link between extreme poverty and human rights. Through this council, principles were adopted to reduce and eradicate extreme poverty by looking at how to respect, protect and realize the human rights of people living in extreme poverty.

While the HRC exists, many of the French aid programs do not specifically target poverty and the need to reduce domestic poverty. France participates in foreign aid policies and programs, such as the Development Assistance Committee of OECD, but domestic aid by the state is left mainly to the Human Rights Council and a few other organizations.

The organizations that are combating poverty in France are mainly grassroots foundations. One foundation is the Action Contre La Faim, or Action Against Hunger, founded in 1979 by French intellectuals to eradicate hunger worldwide after seeing the issues caused by the emergency in Afghanistan. Another French charity, Antenna Technologies, works locally and internationally to simplify technologies to make them more accessible to the most underprivileged populations, while also fighting malnutrition and supplying access to drinking water.

People within France are taking action through organizations to fight poverty. Through these efforts, malnourishment, water scarcity, sanitation and education are being addressed and progress is being made. Their continued work can help improve the lives of those most in need in France.

– Bronti DeRoche

Photo: Flickr

France Sets Up the Refugee Hotspots

On July 27, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will set up refugee hotspots in Libya. These hotspots will process refugee claims and help deter people from attempting the journey across the Mediterranean.

The French government believes that by setting up the hotspots, it will prevent people ineligible for asylum from taking this dangerous and unpredictable journey and decrease human trafficking in the region.

France set up the refugee hotspots to help an estimated 660,000 refugees and internally displaced people in Libya. There are between 800,000 and one million men and women waiting in camps in Libya. So far, France is the only country in Europe to set up these hotspots, as other European countries are reluctant.

It is estimated that 100,000 people have made the trip across the Mediterranean since January. Sadly, more than 2,300 people have died on this journey and another 2,500 are missing. France set up the refugee hotspots to discourage people from making this dangerous trip in rickety boats operated by smugglers that frequently sink.

Days before France decided to set up the refugee hotspots, Macron hosted peace talks with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj aimed at bringing some stability to Libya and slowing the flow of refugees. The talks reportedly went well, and the country agreed to a ceasefire and fresh elections.

France stated that the country wants to play a bigger role in persuading Libya’s factions to end the country’s political crisis and armed conflict that has allowed Islamist militants to gain a foothold and migrant smugglers to flourish in the absence of a strong central government.

France hopes to bring a significant change to the country. In 2015, France offered asylum to 20,630 refugees and wants to give more hope to the refugees waiting in Libya.

Paige Wilson

Photo: Google

Comoros Refugees

The U.N. Human Rights Council estimates that, currently, there are over 21 million refugees. While coverage tends to be concerned primarily with those from Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan, because of their large refugee populations, a smaller, ongoing crisis exists in the Comoros Islands, off the cost of Mozambique, where people flee economic hardship. Here are the 10 facts about refugees from the Comoros.

  1. Many refugees from the Comoros Islands flee to one of the nation’s smaller islands, called Mayotte. This island lies to the southeast of the rest of the Comoros Islands – Moheli, Anjouan, and Grande Comore.
  2. The Comoros at one time belonged to France, but the three major islands gained independence, while Mayotte is still a French territory.
  3. In 1995, the French government made traveling between the islands without a visa illegal, leading to major problems with illegal immigration.
  4. As much as 40 percent of Mayotte’s population are considered illegal immigrants, according to estimates by the French government.
  5. Those living illegally in Mayotte face severe prosecution and deportation. Authorities have stepped up patrols in order to detain and deport those without proper papers. Mayotte deports as many as 20,000 illegal immigrants a year.
  6. Immigrants detained in Mayotte face what a 2008 Council of Europe Human Rights Report deemed “unacceptable” holding conditions, yet many still make the trip seeking better education and healthcare. Detained persons stay in overcrowded rooms and often face inhumane treatment by guards.
  7. Desperation by those leaving the major Comoros Islands has resulted in many tragedies in the ocean. Official numbers from France state that there have been less than ten thousand deaths from the Comoros to Mayotte since 1995. However, governor of Anjouan, Anissi Chamsidine, puts the number at an alarming 50,000.
  8. Although many Comorians travel to Mayotte to find a better life, many who do reach there are disappointed. Those who have left for Mayotte still live in poverty, fearful of deportation. The Red Cross estimates that immigrants working in agriculture or fishing make an average of only $370 a month, while local citizens make $958.
  9. Some Comorians who leave the country will flee to France, although at much fewer rates. In 2016, 294 Comorians applied for asylum in France. Only 16 percent of applications were accepted.
  10. Over 150,000 people with Comorian citizenship live abroad, largely in France, where they can find better access to jobs, education and healthcare.

These facts about refugees from the Comoros Islands illustrate a situation that is in dire need of a solution. The international community must take a stand in assisting to lift the Cormorian people out of a circle of poverty and deportation.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr