Moroccan minors in Goutte-d’Or are “neither orphans nor street children”

The entrance to Alain-Bashung Park at Goutte-d’Or. – Caroline Politi

  • Since October 2016, Moroccan unaccompanied minors and now Algerians and Tunisians have been living in the heart of the Goutte d’Or, in the 18th district.
  • Despite more consistent treatment, the phenomenon persists.
  • Several cities in France and in the suburbs are facing the same phenomenon.

They arrived almost overnight. In October 2016, around thirty Moroccan children and adolescents took up residence in a square in Goutte-d’Or, in the heart of the 18th arrondissement of Paris. The youngest were around ten years old, the oldest said to be 17 years old. Left to their own devices, often not speaking a word of French, addicted to “glue”, they multiply the thefts and increasingly violent attacks. Despite increasingly consistent care over the years, the phenomenon persists.

Sociologist within the Trajectoires association, Olivier Peyroux participated in 2018 in a report commissioned by the City of Paris on the situation of these unaccompanied minors. He comes back for 20 Minutes on the fate of these street kids.

Four years after the arrival of these children and adolescents, has the situation changed?

Their number has been relatively stable for four years. There are still around thirty of them in the Goutte d’Or district, some are very young minors of 13 or 14 years old, others just over 18. Contrary to what had been envisaged on their arrival, they are neither orphans nor street children. Many have families with whom they stay in touch, some can read and write. There is not really a typical profile, some have immigrated to find work, others after being marginalized because of the remarriage of one of their parents, some have imitated friends … The main evolution is is that, for two years, we have seen the arrival of minors from Algeria or Tunisia whereas previously they were all from Morocco.

How to explain their presence in France? Do they belong to networks?

The situations vary from one case to another, but some are effectively exploited by networks of trafficking in human beings. The latter are not necessarily very structured but they exploit and maintain the drug addiction of these young people to push them to steal for them. Numerous investigations have been opened in an attempt to trace and identify these networks, but the extreme mobility of these young people complicates the work of investigation.

Precisely, we had the impression that these minors had long been anchored in the 18th arrondissement and are today in many cities in France and in the suburbs …

Before their arrival in France, they were already present in several European countries such as Spain, Sweden or Belgium. And if the gateway to our territory was Paris, we quickly noticed the installation of groups of Moroccan minors in Rennes, Lyon, Toulouse or Nantes… Their arrival in the suburbs, in particular in Seine-Saint-Denis, is later and is probably explained above all by a very difficult cohabitation with young people from the Goutte d’Or district. There were extremely violent brawls in the neighborhood which may have prompted them to leave.

How do you explain that, four years after their arrival, no suitable care has been found?

The situation of these minors is not only at the crossroads of several issues – youth protection, justice, the police, drug addiction – but is also relatively new. Specialized police services and appropriate protection are needed because traditional care does not work. Most of them run away from the homes in which they are placed, refuse any help. Protection is a condition for the dismantling of these networks whereas today we are in a logic of repression. These two concepts are opposed while they are complementary. However, some young people are doing well. Those who are in the streets today are not those of four years ago. Some left as they came without our knowing what they are doing or where they are today, but others have reinserted themselves.



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