Press Release – 12 February 2017

New data on refugees living on the streets of Paris

Refugees in Paris - both adults and children - have experienced a heavy-handed approach by police and many have been forced to sleep without blankets in freezing conditions, according to a new study by Refugee Rights Europe.

59.6% of refugees and displaced people sleeping rough in Paris have been woken up and told to move by police. 36.5% have experienced different forms of violence by police in the city, including beatings and tear gas.

In addition, 32.7% have had their belongings taken, including blankets or sleeping bags, either by police, individual citizens or refugees. Meanwhile, 74.3% want to stay in France.

These striking figures feature in a new report, Life on the Streets, released today by Refugee Rights Europe. The report is based on interviews with 342 refugees and displaced people in the La Chapelle district of Paris, from 18th to 22nd January 2017.

Refugee Rights Europe’s findings relating to child respondents are particularly alarming given the UK government’s recent decision to end the transfer of unaccompanied children under the Dubs Amendment.

Refugee Rights Europe’s deputy director Natalie Stanton says:

“While French interior minister Bruno Le Roux launched an initiative a few weeks ago aimed at ensuring no person would be left to sleep in the streets of Paris, our data shows a very different reality. Police violence is common, and refugees sleeping rough frequently have their blankets and sleeping bags confiscated without any viable alternative. This includes women, children, and those with health issues.

These findings are particularly alarming in light of the UK government's decision to end transfers under the Dubs Amendment - a legal mechanism that could help safeguard children in Paris who want to seek protection in the UK. Increased and sustainable efforts are needed from the French authorities to address the severe protection issues faced by children in France, and the UK government must step up and fulfil its moral obligations."

Snapshot of the reports' key findings:

All respondents

  • 59.6% of respondents had been asked to relocate by police while they were sleeping. 53.9% described this as a ‘violent’ experience, while 52.5% said they ‘felt scared’ during these incidents. Only 4.9% understood why they had been asked to move.
  • 36.5% had experienced other forms of police violence in Paris, including physical violence and verbal abuse.
  • 32.7% said they had belongings taken from them while in Paris. Of these, 47.3% said these were taken by the police. 61.6% said their blanket or sleeping bag had been taken, and 20.5% their tent.
  • 53.2% said they were experiencing a health problem, including mental health issues.
  • 25.7% had previously spent time living in camps in Calais/Dunkirk, and 74.3% wanted to stay in France.

Minors (children aged 17 or under)

  • 15.2% of all respondents were minors aged 17 or under.
  • 96% of minors were unaccompanied by an adult, suggesting they should be eligible for transfer to the UK under the Dubs Amendment.
  • 50% had been asked to move while they were sleeping, and 57.7% described this as ‘violent’ and ‘scary’. Only 7.7% understood why they had been asked to move.
  • 44.3% of minors had experienced tear gas in Paris.
  • 44.2% of minors were experiencing health problems.
  • 28.9% of minors had previously spent time living in the camps in Calais/Dunkirk, and 51.9% wanted to go to the UK (much higher than the figure of 28.7% for all respondents).

About Refugee Rights Data Project

Refugee Rights Europe is a non-governmental human rights organisation and UK-registered charity. We aim to fill information gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in Europe by conducting our own independent field research.

Our organisation is run by individuals spanning a broad range of sectors and backgrounds. We are independent of any political ideology or religion, united by our commitment to defend the human rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable groups of people. For more information, please visit

Contact Details

For enquiries, please contact:

Natalie Stanton
Deputy Director and Communications Coordinator
T: +44 (0)7817 380 897