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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 France

Poverty 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 parent, large family 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 HotspotsOn 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 RefugeesThe 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

France’s Poverty Rate

In the near-decade since the global financial crisis, France, Europe’s third largest economy, has taken longer to recover than other major economies. Specifically, the French economy posted a growth rate just below 1.1 percent in 2015, lower than the growth in Germany (1.7 percent) and the U.K. (2.2 percent), the two largest economies in Europe. Despite the crisis and stagnant economic growth, France’s poverty rate has remained relatively low compared to other EU nations.

The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) officially reported France’s poverty rate from 2014 at 14.1 percent, equating to more than nine million people. INSEE estimated that the 2015 rate would grow to 14.3 percent, and plans to release the official statistics in September. This rate is better than the EU average of 17.2 percent, as well as many individual European economies, but still covers a large portion of the French population.

When determining the economic status of France, the poverty rate should not be the only number consulted. Unemployment remains high in France. In the most recently reported month, June 2017, unemployment in France stood at 9.6 percent. This is higher than the average in the EU and is more than twice the rates in Germany (3.8) and the U.S. (4.4) from the same month. Nearly three million people who are looking for a job in France cannot find one. Additionally, there is the concern of the next generation of French workers since the unemployment rate for workers between the ages of 15 and 24 is 24 percent.

However, it is difficult to determine whether there is a link between lowering the unemployment rate and lowering France’s poverty rate. France calculates its poverty rate in a relative manner, using an income of 60 percent or less than the average median income in the country as the poverty line. Gaining employment in France increases an individual’s income, but also shifts the poverty line as the median income changes. However, the high unemployment rate does have major implications on the future of the French economy.

Addressing poverty, the high unemployment rate and economic growth are major challenges faced by recently inaugurated president Emmanuel Macron. President Macron endorsed a number of proposals to address these issues during his campaign. The proposals include training programs for more than one million young people, making working hours more flexible and offering incentives to businesses hiring from poor neighborhoods. Implementation of and results from these proposals may not be seen for some time, but each works to address the poverty rate, unemployment rate and economic growth in France.

Erik Beck

Photo: Google

Hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a self-governing archipelago of France that resides near the Newfoundland and Labrador province of Canada. It is currently the only part of New France that remains under French control. Hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon is mainly attributed to climate change and overfishing.

Fishing on both commercial and local scales provides 41 percent of the population’s income. During U.S. Prohibition in the 1920s, the islands became a popular spot for rumrunners to import alcohol into the United States. Business was so successful that men quit their jobs to work on producing alcohol. As soon as Prohibition ended, the economy of Saint Pierre and Miquelon started suffering.

As of August 2017, the standard of living in Saint Pierre and Miquelon is already quite small in comparison to Paris. Additionally, it is also small in comparison with any territory or country. Although Saint Pierre and Miquelon has a low standard of living, they also import more than 95.35 million euros, mostly in clothing and meats.

The low cost of living in a way helps the people with access to very affordable fruits and vegetables. Some can cost less than one euro per pound. This low cost contributes to the lack of hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon because healthy food is readily available to them. Most only earn a monthly salary of 1,400 euros, with 0.92 euros being equivalent to one U.S. dollar.

In 2008, the unemployment rates were 9.9 percent, contributing to a rise in poverty and ultimately hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon. The fluctuation in fishing profits directly influences the standard of living. The inhabitants have earned their income through the fishing trade, both domestically and internationally, which contributed to their economy and dinner plates. This economy, however, has been declining due to disputes with Canada over fishing quotas, and the use of overfishing.

Although France subsidizes Saint Pierre and Miquelon to the great benefit of living standards, the current living standards remain quite low. An average monthly salary in Paris is over 2,000 euros, which contributes to their high standard of living and low poverty, along with a large number of profits from tourism.

Through the islands, rich smuggling history and many sights to visit, Saint Pierre and Miquelon could thrive with a successful tourist industry that might counteract the effects of the fishing economy decreasing. With a boost to the economy, hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, as well as the unemployment, could be improved upon while creating a higher standard of living.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in FranceLiberty, equality, fraternity. France’s national motto ensures equal liberties and rights for its people without discrimination and is a cornerstone of French democracy. As an active member of the Security Council, General Assembly, Human Rights Council and Economic and Social Council, France has a history of advocating for human rights.

However, human rights in France have been jeopardized by measures of counterterrorism accompanied by a lack of judicial regulation. The French government declared a state of emergency in November of 2015 after a series of terrorist attacks. Parliament extended the declaration until July of 2017, allowing a two-year span of infringement on human rights in France in regards to freedom of movement, privacy, security, freedom of association and even expression. Without judicial intervention, multiple accounts of infringement on freedoms without causes were reported over the two years, which mainly targeted the Muslim community in France.

During this sociopolitical trauma, the government allowed over 3,200 raids and over 350 house arrests. According to Izza Legthasa, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, “France has a responsibility to ensure public safety and try to prevent further attacks, but the police have used their new emergency powers in abusive, discriminatory, and unjustified ways. This abuse has traumatized families and tarnished reputations, leaving targets feeling like second-class citizens.”

While France should take proper precaution to avoid and prevent future terrorist attacks, the measures taken to prevent such attacks must not promote the targeting of certain demographics of the French population in the name of security.

Although 2016 was not a proud year for human rights in France, 2017 does look more promising with the inauguration of France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron. His inaugural speech ensured that “France will always make sure to be on the side of…human rights.” The policies President Macron intends to implement will protect human rights and act as a model which other European countries can apply to their own governments for the sake of protecting personal rights and liberties.

Kaitlin Hocker

Photo: Flickr


From the Senne to the Mediterranean, France is hailed as one of the most expensive countries on the globe. With delicacies such as escargot and macarons, it’s no wonder the cost of living in France is higher than in most nations. The capital city of Paris ranks among the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, with the country as a whole being among the top 20 most expensive countries in the world.

Everything from gas to a loaf of bread has an inflated price in France. The average price per gallon of gas in France is around $5.54. The same amount of gas in Venezuela would be about $0.12. These countries couldn’t be farther apart in distance, and their people have near polar opposite lifestyles, demonstrating the wealth disparity and high cost of living in France.

Housing is arguably the biggest factor in living cost, and France is a prime example of a competitive housing market. Paris is on par with other major cities such as Beijing and Chicago in terms of monthly price. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Paris per month is $1,730. The same apartment over 5,000 miles away in Beijing would be $1,900 a month.

It is not always the average person looking for a place to live in France. In 2016, a villa in southern France was estimated to be valued at $1 billion. Many have reported this house to be the most expensive in the world.

Currency also reflects a country’s cost of living. The euro has been volatile in recent months but is consistently valued higher than other major currencies, such as the dollar. Over the past three months, the euro has steadily grown to four percent more valuable than the dollar. This disparity increases cost of living in France.

From the French Riviera to Normandy’s beaches, France is regularly one of the most expensive places to live. Paris tops many lists with its exuberant prices and is widely known to be exclusively for the wealthy. This ideology is not solely in Paris, as cities across France continue to see prices soar for everything from rent to a loaf of bread.

Sophie Casimes

Photo: Flickr


On May 7, Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker and political newcomer, became president of France. The French election was divisive, but among the strongest supporters of President Macron’s centrist policies were those living in poverty across the globe and those hoping to help them.

Macron has vowed to increase France’s foreign aid budget to 0.7 percent of the country’s GDP. Three years ago that budget was 0.36 percent, which translated to $10 billion. With the budget doubled, many impoverished people can expect to see increased aid from France.

In his own words, Macron envisions a newly open relationship with Africa, “without any false post-colonial coyness.” The history of French intervention in Africa will not be brushed under the rug with his administration, rather it will be rectified by investing in the developing continent.

As a former investment banker, Macron sees how investing in Africa’s development now will help his country in the long run. Of World Finance’s five fastest growing economies in 2017, three are African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire. Further, Macron will hold France to the economic partnership made between the EU and the Southern Africa Development Community last year.

Macron has also committed to the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which states one of its direct goals is “to end poverty and hunger.” In June, he’s agreed to lobby the G20 Summit to invest in Africa’s economic development as well.

Amid threats of terrorism and corruption in many African countries, President Emmanuel Macron emphasizes solidifying safety and autonomy abroad more than anything else. Dictatorships threatening democracy were supposedly strengthened by French leaders for years, serving their own interests in place of the African people. This system, referred to as the “francafrique,” is one of the imperial remnants that Macron intends to completely do away with as he builds a fresh relationship with Africa.

In an election dominated by domestic affairs, President Emmanuel Macron dedicated himself to being an ally to the world’s poor. Time will tell the benefits that his election brings.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr


Known for its Tour de France, Eiffel Tower, natural wonders and great wealth, no one would ever suspect that the water quality in France is so poor.

The poor water quality might not be evident at first as most of the population enjoys clean water. In 2014, it was recorded that 98 percent of the population in France have access to clean water, a 280,000 person increase from 2012.

In the same year, 95 percent of households in France reported having a water supply that conforms to legal standards.

With such a high population enjoying clean water, where is the water quality in France considered so bad? The answer is not in modern, urban areas, but rather the forgotten rural areas where the agriculture industry reigns.

Approximately 1.5 million people, or five percent of France’s population, are drinking polluted water. Most of these people live in the rural areas of eastern or southern France in addition to the agricultural areas surrounding Paris where 20 percent or more of the population drink contaminated water. Additionally, 63 percent of homes have polluted water-accounting for around 900,000 people.

Experts noted that the cause of the contaminated water, in towns with less than 500 people, is due to the fact that these agricultural areas are exposed to high levels of pesticides and nitrates from fertilizers and livestock manure.

Additional contamination factors are said to be from natural radioactive chemicals and lime, which creates hard water residue on drinking glasses.

Although the contamination rate has fallen 35 percent since 2012, the quality gap is deafening and not much is being done for rural areas.

On the brighter side, the areas where France has improved water quality is due to the improvement of pollution control and reforming water standards. Over the past decade, France has made a huge investment in water treatment and control of the use of pesticides and chemicals that may contaminate the water. France has also improved their water quality through piped household connections, public taps, tube wells, protected dug wells, protected springs and rainwater collection.

With these new improvements to the water quality in France, the country continues to find solutions for clean and drinkable water.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr