France: Slum and shantytown populations are more vulnerable than ever during COVID-19 outbreak
23 mars 2020

In France, Aide et Action has been working in partnership with the association ASET 93, in the shantytowns of Seine-Saint-Denis to support the education of children living far from school. The spread of the coronavirus is particularly impacting these vulnerable and marginalized populations.

More than 600 children live in slums in Seine-Saint-Denis and 80% of them do not have access to school. Already vulnerable and marginalized, these children and their families are now facing the epidemic of the coronavirus, which further isolates them.

For more than a year, Aide et Action has supported ASET 93 in implementing educational activities in shantytowns, squats and welfare hotels (via, among other things, a school truck system which makes it possible to ensure pre-schooling until administrative procedures for school registration are completed) and ensures mediation activities between families and school teams. Currently, these activities are restricted due to the context of the current global health crisis.

No solution provided by state authorities

Clélia Chopinaud, ASET 93’s school educator, has expressed concerned over the restriction of activities. « Regarding pedagogical continuity, mediators remain the intermediaries between teachers and parents of students for the transfer of information and school work », specifies Chopinaud. “In addition, the association’s school educators are considering the creation of a “resource centre” of educational tools designed as closely as possible to the needs of students and readily accessible, with diffusion organized by mediators” she adds.

« Mediators are working from home, responding to the needs communicated by parents by telephone. They nevertheless go to the work field to try to meet the most urgent problems while waiting for state authorities to play their role. We are concerned about the health situation. So far, the government has failed to solve the problems. We hope that emergency actions will be implemented in the coming days ».

Moral support provided by mediators

Parents of students are now asking the government to guarantee them access to basic necessities, food aid, and sanitation measures. “Mediators relay these requests. They inform, reassure, and are also present for moral support in this extremely difficult moment” says Chopinaud.

For almost 40 years Aide et Action has been fighting to support the most fragile and marginalized populations across the globe. Despite the current context of the global pandemic of COVID-19, we are doing everything we can to continue supporting our operational partners and ensuring the continuity of our actions in the field where possible.

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