Amnesty International has accused France of double standards in its treatment of refugees. The rights group said that Ukrainians fleeing war are being treated differently from refugees of other nationalities, citing in particular Afghans fleeing the Taliban last year.
France is "far from the model that we expect from this country" regarding the respect of public freedoms and human rights, Amnesty International said in its annual report on the status of human rights in 2021, published on Tuesday, March 29.
The NGO in particular criticized an alleged disparity in hosting policies, saying Ukrainians fleeing war are being treated differently from refugees of other nationalities.
"What we have been seeing over the past few weeks clashes particularly with the way authorities spoke about Afghans" fleeing the Taliban who had just taken over the country in mid-August last year, said Nathalie Godard, action director for Amnesty International France, presenting the report to reporters.
The French government has put in place a program to welcome "at least 100,000" Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion in Ukraine, Premier Jean Castex has said. On August 16 last year, in his speech on Afghanistan, President Emmanuel Macron asked to "act in advance and protect us from relevant irregular migration flows", Amnesty deplored, citing the disparity in treatment between Ukrainian and Afghan refugees.
Godard stressed that the temporary protection granted to Ukrainian refugees by European Union countries was "also requested for Afghans, unsuccessfully".This proves a "double standard", the Amnesty official said.
Temporary protection will allow Ukrainian refugees to live for up to three years in the European Union, working and accessing the education system as well as receiving medical care.
'Degrading treatment' in Calais
In Calais, where many migrants stay as they wait to try and cross the Channel in order to reach the UK, exiled people for many years lived in "disgraceful" conditions and nothing has changed in 2021, Amnesty said. "Police and local authorities have limited their access to humanitarian aid and have harassed them."
Several NGOs, in particular, denounced that migrant tents were destroyed by police during operations to evict migrants, with the backing of authorities. The allegations have been denied by those involved.
Criticism over the situation of migrants in Calais and Grande-Synthe escalated once again after a shipwreck on November 24, 2021 caused the death of 27 people who were trying to cross the channel to reach Great Britain.