Montreuil: Despite the actions of rapper Kalash, 120 women and children are threatened with deportation

Montreuil (93) – Ibrahim, 12 months, plays in his blue pool. He laughs. His mother, Cherif, soaps him and pours water over his cool little body using a plastic pot. The two give each other big smiles and laughs. But as Cherif looks away from his son, another, tougher face appears. Along with 120 other women and children, she has been living in Montreuil since May. The rapper Kalash and his wife Klara Kata, alerted by the journalist and member of the collective Entraide Montreuil Capucine Légelle, financed a cleaning of the premises. That was not enough. On Wednesday, June 8, at noon, three documents were posted on the front page of this former Chinese restaurant. An order from the mayor for “urgent security”. In 48 hours they risk deportation. Since then, the residents of Avenue Pasteur have been living in anxiety.

“We have nowhere to go,” Cherif says as she tries to dress her son. Not easy: the toddler is still struggling and laughing. Like all the other women present here, she left her country. For the Sheriff, it was Guinea. Her parents died and she ended up living with her stepfather. “He abused me. And it became more and more frequent.” She then decides to leave with one of her friends, leaving behind her 11-year-old daughter. His voice cracks:

“We took the boat, we had a shipwreck. My boyfriend died in the water.”

Since she arrived in France a little over a year ago, it alternates between the street and the specific solutions that 115 offers. She is finally in front of the town hall in Montreuil. In the forecourt, Cherif and the other women meet the association Utopia, which gives them a tent every night in the Parc des Guilands. On Thursday, May 12, she decides, along with the other women, to settle temporarily in this restaurant, which has been abandoned for ten years.

Cherif and his son Ibrahim have been living in this squat in Montreuil since May. /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

On Wednesday, June 8, a mayoral order was placed for “urgent security.” The 120 women and children in squats are at risk of being thrown out and have lived for 48 hours for fear of returning to the streets. /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

Leaks in the ceiling

She has lived here for over a month. But the Sheriff is worried. Her son suffers from asthma and the living conditions in the squat do not help the situation. Mattresses are placed on the floor, one glued to the other. There is no shower or cooking facilities. “I have a sore throat, it hurts a lot,” sighs Timite Aminata in a low, crushed voice. “It worries me. Here everyone is sick, everyone has a cold”, adds the one who is several months pregnant. They are a dozen women who have a round belly. “I’m tired, everyone’s tired”. Women are also stressed for Hawa and her son Amadou, born ten days ago:

“I called 115, they gave me two days one place, then two days another, but I can not go two days here and two days there with a newborn baby! »

In late May, journalist and volunteer Capucine Légelle contacts on social networks rapper Kalash and his wife Klara Kata. The couple was moved by the situation, finances the arrival of a company to empty and clean the squat. After all, the place remains “dangerous,” Hawa estimates. The intervention would have even “aggravated the situation”, the town hall assures which is based on a report from an expert commissioned by the Administrative Court. She finds the situation untenable. In the decree on “urgent security” pasted between two tags, collages, posters of a solidarity meeting and Zip code, it says: “The ceiling in the old kitchen has partially collapsed due to water intrusion (…), the wooden floor in the ceiling is also broken down and overloaded” but also “the illegal occupancy of the premises is at the origin of illegal electrical compounds that pose a significant risk of electric shock and fire “, or even:” Stagnant wastewater can pose a health risk to residents. Enter, braided hair tied, shouting through the group of women gathered outside: “Me, nothing scares me longer, I crossed Libya, the Mediterranean, I spent seven days in the water, with sharks, it’s not dripping plasterboard or exposure that scares me. »

Hawa, Salimata, Fatou and her daughter Kady. The women in the squat demand that each family be “rehoused.” /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

The squat is a former Chinese restaurant that has been abandoned for about ten years. /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

The collective is accompanied by two lawyers. One of them, Master Hanna Rajbenbach condemns StreetPress: “We support the collective in their appeals against the decree issued by the mayor, who in a completely hypocritical way, without any authority proposing rehousing solutions, invokes an urgent need for security while it will only lead to a return to the streets for a hundred women and children, the youngest of whom is 12 days old. She explains that the residents of avenue Pasteur are “aware that this place can only be temporary”, but she points out their desire to “achieve delays in order to have a chance of being able to find rehousing solutions.” »

For Mama Doucouré, a member of the municipal council responsible for women’s rights, who regularly comes to discuss with the residents of squat, City Hall is in a dilemma “It’s hard to determine if people are safer inside the squat or outside.” However, she regrets that no solution was proposed until a decision was taken on the expulsion. And indicates that he has not heard of possible proposals to date.

Mattresses are placed on the floor, one glued to the other. There is no shower or cooking facilities. /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

Due to the unhealthiness, the inhabitants of avenue Pasteur are “aware that this place can only be temporary”. /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

After the expulsion, the blurring

“If we were at least offered accommodation, but now they’re just saying to us, ‘We’ll throw you out.’ But where are we going? Where are we going? ‘ “We are afraid, everyone is disturbed. We are afraid to return to the streets.” In front of her, Mohamed and Ismaël, 12 months old, run one after the other and play with kicking a ball. Their shouts of joy are drowned out by the ambient noise and what comes and goes in the dark room.

To READ ALSO : In Montreuil, a maternity ward for women in need

Salimata is part of the “referring” trio in squat with Mariam and Ange. She came from Côte d’Ivoire and arrived in France a year and eight months ago. She has no children and left alone, after fleeing “sexual violence and forced marriage”. She crossed the desert on foot before spending three days on a boat to reach Italy. In France, she originally hosted her nephew and his wife. But they divorced “and his wife threw me out”. She took refuge with a friend who welcomed her for several months, “then he told me I should give him a child, but I would not, so he threw me out and I went back to the street”, she says, her gaze fixed and detached.

The residents of the squat wrote a press release in which they asked for the repeal of the town hall decree “until a lasting solution is found for all”. “If you do not do that, it is to take responsibility for what will happen to our babies on the street./
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

The women’s collective has put a kitty online as well as a list of their needs. /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

Anxiety is also present in Mahoua, who arrived in the territory in 2019. She also fled a forced marriage. “My husband died, they wanted to give me to my husband’s brother, I refused and had to flee to get here. She sought asylum “which did not succeed”. In front of her stands her six-month-old daughter, Aminata, who giggles all smiles in her stroller. She had to leave her seven-year-old twin daughters and her four-year-old son in Côte d’Ivoire with her brother. She manages to have news from time to time. “Sometimes we make video calls,” she whispers with shining eyes. Although she complains of headaches and her daughter coughs, Mahoua would rather stay here than the insecurity or the street. This is also the opinion of Fatou, an Ivorian who passed through the Moroccan desert and then “four days on the water” with his three-year-old daughter Kady:

“We have to tell the town hall, the prefecture, that we’re asking them for forgiveness, it’s just that we do not know anyone here, we have nowhere to go … we must help ourselves!”

Currently, women can count on the support of associations in Montreuil, such as Les potes de la maraude, which supplies them with food. They also get help from residents who come to hand over their belongings or food., like Marie-Hèlène, 69, who lives in the neighboring building: “I think it is inhuman to let people and children sleep on the ground where there are rats …”. She regrets the eviction decision and especially the lack of rehousing of people: “I think we are in a social city, it surprises me a lot. “The children can not even go to school. It is not a stable place for them. We do not teach children on the street. We ask that every family be rehoused, ”adds Salimata.

In squat there are many children, the youngest of whom is ten days old. /
Credit: Clara Monnoyeur

The eviction deadline expires on Friday 10 June at The residents of the squat wrote a press release asking for the cancellation of this decree at City Hall. “We ask the City Hall of Montreuil to issue a municipal decree against the postponement of squats on avenue Pasteur until a lasting solution has been found for all the inhabitants of the squat.” And write: “If you do not do that, it is to take responsibility for what will happen to our babies on the street.” A graceful appeal was filed Friday, June 10, at City Hall in Montreuil by the women accompanied by other collectives.

To READ ALSO : Between slums and substandard homes, it’s the hassle of the 80 squat residents who burned down

On the side of the town hall (1) we send the ball back to the prefecture by remembering that emergency accommodation is a privilege for the state: “The city of Montreuil is asking the prefecture to find decent solutions for shelter and rehousing. »

(1) Montreuil City Hall also states that it has “identified and reported the most vulnerable people in this squat. Some of them already have space in emergency rooms”.

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