In Nice, the situation of migrants settled around a church in the city center in suspense

REPORTING – For several years, migrants have been sleeping around the Vœu church, located near the “Coulée verte”. The town hall wants to evict them and is awaiting the court’s decision on July 10. The priest, he indicates that the parish no longer has the right to welcome them.

Le Figaro Nice

The sun sets behind the Vœu church in Nice. The forecourt in front of the steps falls into the shade, and the temperature, on this summer evening, drops again. It’s 8:30 p.m. In front of the building, about thirty migrants gather. Sitting on the stairs, on a bench in the square, or already installed in a tent, they eat after the passage of a Secours Populaire van. By nightfall, they will once again fall asleep under the storefront of the parish of the Vœu, located near the “Coulée verte”, in the city center of the capital of the Côte d’Azur.

This situation has been going on since 2016. In winter, these individuals take refuge earlier, around 6 p.m., around the church. In the summer, at this later time, the parish closed. The situation has persisted for almost seven years. Only the number and groups of migrants vary, depending on the influx at the Italian border. But this year, the Nice town hall, which owns the building, decided to take up the subject. In June, the first Deputy in charge of Security, Anthony Borré, announced his intention to have them expelled. On the 27th of the same month, the municipality filed a request before the judge in chambers of the administrative court of Nice in order to request “the eviction without delay of all illegal occupants”. The decision will be made on July 10 after a hearing.

Statement by a bailiff

A bailiff came to see the situation of these migrants. Tents, suitcases, clothes and bicycles are indeed stored either in front of the church or nearby. “The places do not have the sanitary conditions necessary to accommodate these people”, further underlines the services of the City. And add that a “Such an occupation causes various disturbances to public order”. During the day, these individuals roam the Promenade du Paillon, on the other side of the street. Before returning in the evening around the parish to spend the night there in makeshift facilities.

These migrants come from Senegal (of the Muslim faith) and Ivory Coast (Christians), specifies Father Frédéric Sangès, head of the parish of the Vœu for three years and who meets them every day. He details at Figaro its position, in connection with the diocese of Nice: “The Church remains an association, and in its statutes, it has the right to exercise and promote worshiphe recalls. But she is not allowed to do charity, except in an emergency. There, the problem is that this emergency situation has become permanent., he explains. On the other hand, he refutes the fact of wanting to expel them. “It is not the request of the priesthe insists. They are human beings who must be taken care of.”

Frédéric Sangès thus denounces the conditions in which these individuals sleep “waiting for documents they will never have”, he laments. According to him, these migrants live “among the rats” who are attracted to food and they have no sanitary means available. “In discussions with the town hall, I indicate that this is not tenable and that a better solution must be found”, continues the priest. Local residents also complained of droppings.

Asylum seekers ?

The desire of the municipality to have all the illegal immigrants present in front of this church in the city center outraged David Nakache, president of the association Tous Citoyens!. In a press release published in June, he denounces “a mayor and his majority who prefer to hunt down vulnerable people such as exiles” rather than “to increase the reception capacity in the accommodation center”. He calls “the State to assume its legal obligations and to accommodate asylum seekers”. According to Philippe Jansen, head of the Sant’Egidio community and who provides them with food in the morning, only five individuals are deportable and the others are awaiting their asylum application. “If they kick everyone out, they’ll go sleep somewhere else…or they’ll come back”he thinks.

I won’t let human rights prevail, I won’t let the jungle of Calais settle in Nice!

Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice

Unsolvable problem? The municipality could consider installing gates in front of the church to prevent crowds, but Father Frédéric Sangès categorically refuses to do so. Friday morning, Mayor Christian Estrosi (Horizons) maintained a firm position on this file. “I will not let human rights prevail“, he assured the Figaro. “Our fellow citizens are tired of this situation, and they are right. I will not let the jungle of Calais settle in Nice!”he insisted, while recalling that the occupation of the public domain is his business and that he does not want “disorder takes over”. This evening again in Nice, the sun is setting and migrants will come to spend the night in front of the Vœu church. Waiting for the arrival, perhaps one day, of the police to dislodge them.

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