Migrant Redistribution Continues Across France: Tranquil Provençal Village (Pop. 470) Set to Receive 72 Asylum-Seekers
An idyllic South of France village is set to receive 72 African migrants as the French government continues its program to disperse tens of thousands of new arrivals across the country.
Perched high in the wooded hills of Provence’s Var region and overlooking a dramatic ravine, remote Châteaudouble draws summer visitors en route to ”Europe’s Grand Canyon”, the celebrated Gorges du Verdon which lie an hour north of the village in what is one of France’s most wild and scenic regions.
With Paris migrant accommodations largely saturated – an estimated 550 migrants arrive in the city weekly – the French Interior Ministry is continuing its program of dispersing asylum seekers to hundreds of towns and villages across the country, outsourcing housing and catering to numerous tax-payer funded associations.
In the case of tiny Châteaudouble, French NGO Forum réfugiés-Cosi has been awarded the contract to provide accommodations and supervision for the migrants, set to arrive this September. A glance at the employment section of the group’s website currently reveals five posts on offer at what will become Châteaudouble’s migrant reception center, a former retirement home. The organization receives funding from the UN, UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) and the EU, as well as monies from the French Interior Ministry.
Echoing the situation in rural communities across France, local reaction has been overwhelmingly negative to the announcement of the migrants’ impending arrival.
Residents fear the influx will change the Provençal character of the village, with many concerned over crime, pointing at the dramatic deterioration of the nearest large town, Draguignan, which has been transformed by immigration in recent years. Others have expressed concerns to French media that summer visitors will avoid the village, designated a ”village of character.”
Located in the back country above the Côte d’Azur, the medieval stone village of Châteaudouble attracts visitors for its ancient fortifications, olive groves and canyon hiking trails.
The village is one of at least 450 locations selected to house a Centre d’accueil et d’orientation (Reception and Orientation Center) by the French Interior Ministry in 2016. Under the program, migrants have been sent to some of the most scenic and touristic villages in France, with some suggesting that government strategy is to implant migrants in the least diverse corners of the country for ideological reasons.
Whilst certain Châteaudouble locals have been quoted in French media as hoping the migrants will add vitality to the community, Rassemblement National, the newly renamed party of Marine Le Pen has spoken out against what it terms the ”colonization” of the region’s villages.
According to the French Interior Ministry, the contract awarded to the NGO for running the Châteaudouble reception center will be temporary, lasting two years. Given that France’s borders remain porous, however, the center will likely remain open after this time.
In 2017, a record 100,755 migrants claimed asylum in France. Regardless of whether asylum is granted, virtually all who arrive end up remaining in the country.
Photos: Provence Web