Twenty prominent organizations have published an open letter warning the French government about the condition of migrants held in the country's detention centers, where two people recently committed suicide.
The groups, including Amnesty International and Medicins du Monde (Doctors of the World), have written to French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, saying that in addition to at least two suicides, there have been hunger strikes, riots and arson attempts over the conditions in the centers.
"Men and women self-harm or attempt suicide in the administrative detention centers (CRAs) [as] the result of an unacceptable policy which leads to an extremely alarming situation," the letter says.
The 20 groups accuse the government of "trivializ(ing) the deprivation of liberty of foreigners". They also call on Castaner to ban the detention of children, to protect the sick and "put an end to the administration's illegal practices."
Castaner said on Tuesday that children should only be detained in CRAs in exceptional circumstances and only in specialized centers able to house whole families.
In the open letter, the organizations also complain that there is no management of mental disorders among detainees who are often locked up in separate rooms with no specialized help.
France's highest administrative court last week ordered that water points, showers and toilets be installed in a gymnasium housing hundreds of migrants. NGOs have described the conditions at the site as a rights violation. Regional authorities were given eight days to install "sufficient" resources and to provide around 700 migrants with information about their rights, in their own languages, according to AFP.
Earlier this month, six NGOs working in French detention centers said in their annual report that France continued to use immigration detention routinely and broadly. According to statistics published by the groups, 43,609 people were held in CRAs in 2018.
The report also said that there had been an increase in the number of children being detained. It said 1,429 children were detained in 2018, of which the majority were in the French overseas territory of Mayotte, where authorities unlawfully "attach" children to unrelated adults.