Paris: "Little Kabul" refugee park

Paris: "Little Kabul" refugee park

The 'sewer boys' of Rome are getting worldwide attention, but apparently Rome is not the only European capital city where Afghan minors are left to their own devices.


At dusk, Bashar and Hassan creep into the children's playground in central Paris to set up their cardboard tents near the slide.

"We are not beggars," Bashar, a 15-year-old Afghan boy, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Monday, April 6.

Every evening, Bashar and as many as 100 Afghan refugee boys turn up at the part at the Villemin Square, in Paris' trendy 10th district, to roll out their blankets and sleeping bags.

Exhausted and broke, they are struggling to rebuild their lives in the West.

"We left Afghanistan because we did not want to die, because there is no future there," said Bashar, whose parents, brothers and sisters were killed in Afghanistan when he was eight years old.

Bashar fled Afghanistan after his uncle sold his shop to raise the thousands of euros needed to pay smugglers for safe passage to the West.

But in France, the 15-year-old faces new hardship.

Every day, French police raid on the park to chase away the minors, who would invariably return a few hours later for a short night's rest.

Rights groups are raising the alarm over the growing number of refugee children who wander the streets of Paris and make their way to the French neighborhood, dubbed "Little Kabul".

According to the refugee advocacy group France Terre d'Asile, 683 migrants under the age of 18 have been left to fend for themselves in the French capital in 2008, up from 480 in 2007.

The group complains of lack of enough help to the Afghan refugees.

Dominique Bordin, the director for protection of minors at the group, said there are only 28 beds to shelter the boys.

Not far from the park, another charity group serves a warm breakfast to the minors as well-heeled Parisians pour out into the streets, heading to work.

But the breakfast service has sparked opposition from residents as it draws long queues of refugees,

One Afghan national was killed and a second one was seriously injured when a fight broke out between refugees at the square on Sunday, police said.

Refugee boys are disappointed at their treatment in the European country.

"I was told France was the land of human rights," said Hassan.

"But look! You are waging war in our country and here, you don't even treat us like human beings."


Source: Islam Online (English)

See also: Rome: Immigrants found living in sewers

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