Homeless man (illustrative)

Bordeaux cardinal blasts government for mass squat evictions

Bordeaux cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard has come out in support of the French port city’s homeless collective after the Gironde prefecture launched a series of evictions that turned 300 people out on the streets.

Driving the news

As La Croix reports, Fabienne Buccio, prefect of the Gironde, recently decided to clean up Bordeaux’s estimated 150 squats, home to some 1,500 people.

“I wanted to act to avoid the situations in Toulouse and Nantes, where things were overflowing into the streets,” Buccio, who oversaw the clearing of the infamous refugee and migrant camp known as the “Calais Jungle” in 2016, declared July 17.

Buccio added that she was acting as well out of concerns over possible “trafficking in human beings”.

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The intrigue

The Gironde prefecture says emergency accommodation solutions are offered to all evictees.

But groups defending the city’s homeless say that’s not true.

As many as 70% of evictees are asylum seekers and as such are eligible for protection under French law, according to Aude Saldana-Cazenave, regional coordinator of the humanitarian movement Doctors of the World.

“Squats and slums are being created because of the lack of emergency accommodation and housing for students and the working poor,” Saldana-Cazenave told La Croix, adding that there is a shortfall of 2,500 beds for asylum seekers in the New Aquitaine region to which Bordeaux belongs.

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Go deeper

Doctors of the World is calling for “social innovation” to overcome the “political impasse” affecting the homeless in Bordeaux.

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But the charity is not alone in raising the alarm.

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard decried July 29 the fact that “families, pregnant women and young children have been expelled”, and said “the question of relocation must be addressed”.

“All these people cannot be left on the street, especially in the heat of summer”, warned Ricard.

“Public authorities and associations must do everything possible to address this question”, added the cardinal.

“Having a roof is a fundamental right. ‘Land, a roof and work are sacred rights,’ Pope Francis tells us. With him we sound the alarm bell that warns us of the moral decline that lies ahead if we continue to concede ground to the culture of rejection”.

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