:: National context

Short overview of the situation in France in terms of Roma population, their living conditions and main issues:

Total population: 66,627,602 (January 2016)

In France, there is no legal notion of “ethnic groups”

Poverty rates: between 8.1% of the population and 14,1% depending on the definition1[i]

Unemployment rates – 9.9% of the labour force[ii]2

Life expectancy: 80 years old for men and 85,6 for women

The number of people from Eastern Europe living in slums in France is estimated between 15,000 and 20,000. Most of them are Roma and came from Romania and Bulgaria after 2000 and live in extremely precarious conditions.

The majority are considered by the authorities to be in an irregular situation. Until 2014, the transitional measures introduced by the French government since the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the European Union, made the access to work for these Europeans living in France virtually impossible. However, greater opportunities for integration are now open to Romanian and Bulgarian nationals. People with good employability are no longer constrained by a system of prior control of the salaried activity and can freely work. Nevertheless, as expected, for a large part of the poor migrants living in slums, the problem cannot only be confined to the question of professional integration.

In addition to the individual and social determinants, the number of evacuations of places of life is a hindering factor to integration. Time allocated for overall support services is often necessary to remove the obstacles to integration: finding housing, looking after oneself, circumventing or solving problems of illiteracy, and so on.

Unfortunately, the number of evacuations is high. “In 2015, more than 11 000 people were evicted from 111 slums or squat settlements. The effects are catastrophic especially in terms of social and medical support and school drop-outs[1].” (Political Report National Human Rights, Collective Romeurope, 2015). These policies have no other result than to displace the places of life without any impact on the resorption of slums and squats.

In addition, these repeated evacuations lead to a search for invisibility in order to slow down the pace. Two phenomena can be observed: on the one hand, isolated settlement (generally in unhealthy areas with lack of sanitary facilities and water points in the vicinity, dangerous connection to electricity, etc.) and far from transport and public services in general. And on another hand a growing number of squats, which is less visible than open fields. This increase the precariousness of those populations and complicates the associative work by making it more difficult to locate and respond to people's needs.  

As in the case of other populations living in precarious conditions and facing barriers to access healthcare, field workers found that the overall health situation of Roma migrant populations is extremely worrying. In order to overcome these difficulties, and particularly to improve the reception and follow-up of these populations in the public health structures, health mediation was seen as the most relevant approach to be developed. The health mediation program was designed with the objective of removing the main barriers to access healthcare for populations in precarious situations, with a non-existent or limited use of public services in France:

  • Difficulties in access to domiciliation and health insurance
  • Lack of information on the health system
  • Communication barriers (foreign language, illiteracy, etc.)
  • Interruption of care

Living conditions in squats and slums, discriminatory practices and entitlements to health care for foreigners have a direct impact on determinants of health

[1] D’après un rapport de 2015 rédigé par la Ligue des Droits de l’Homme et European Roma Rights Centre : « Recensement des évacuations forcées de lieux de vie occupés par des Roms (ou des personnes désignées comme telles) en France »

[i] www.inegalites.fr/spip.php?article270

[ii] www.insee.fr/fr/themes/info-rapide.asp?id=14


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