The French government on Wednesday unveiled a range of measures, many of them hardening its migration policies, as centrist President Emmanuel Macron seeks to push the issue up the agenda.
Health Minister Agnes Buzyn announced restrictions on access to non-urgent healthcare for foreigners and asylum seekers, to the dismay of volunteer groups working with migrants.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said informal migrant camps in north-eastern Paris would be cleared out by the end of the year, while 16,000 more housing units would be made available for recognised asylum seekers.
France should ‘accept leveraging our public development aid in support of our migration policy,’ European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said.
While combatting inequality and crises, French aid should also help governments control movement between developing countries and ‘give young people in countries of origin a future there,’ she said.
‘We want to take back control of our migration policy,’ Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said, promising - not for the first time - reduced processing times for asylum claims and more deportations.
Buzyn said asylum seekers would in future have to wait three months for social security to cover non-urgent healthcare - a measure she said would bring their treatmenmt in line with other patients.
But 10 charities including Doctors without Borders (MSF) criticised the move.
‘While they often arrive in health physically and mentally weakened by a difficult migratory journey, the government has decided to weaken them even more,’ the charities charged.
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