French suburbs gather under the locking of coronaviruses


The suburbs of immigrants on the outskirts of French cities have been particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Effective locking is almost impossible in these neighborhoods,” explains Aloys Vimard, a nurse from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The NGO has set up diagnostic centers in the densely populated areas north of Marseille.

The lockdown “weighs heavily on people,” says Vimard. “Before the lockout, many children ate only one meal a day at school because it was free. Now they are hungry. The epidemic is worsening inequalities. “

Covid-19 is not as deadly as the Ebola virus that Vimard fought in West Africa, but he sees some similarities. “People find every excuse not to be tested. They don’t want to be identified as sick. I know of two cases who died without seeing a doctor. We are trying to break the stigma associated with the virus, to encourage people to get tested. “

Immigrant settlements are widely regarded as illegal and explosive. Stanislas Guerini, who heads La République en Marche party of President Emmanuel Macron, warned of the risk of “violent conflict” between “France of holiday homes and France of housing projects” in an interview with L magazine ‘Obs.

But although the stereotypes about the suburbs are partly true, the picture that emerged from interviews with people living or working in the immigrant neighborhoods of Paris and Marseille was very different.

Does Vimard fear unrest in the north of Marseille? ” On the contrary. I hear people say that whether you are rich or poor, we are all at risk from the virus. I hear no bitterness, no message of hatred or violence. “


If anything, the suburbs seem to be approaching to a degree not seen in the wealthier areas. Moufid Saleh, son of immigrants from the Comoros, mainly Arab-African from the Indian Ocean, was born and raised in the north of Marseille. He spoke warmly of Selim Hadiji, a doctor of Tunisian origin who organized the fight against Covid-19 in his neighborhood.

Before the lockdown, Saleh was a volunteer coach at the Football Club Loisirs Malpassé, which is supported by the professional team of Olympique de Marseille. Football is his life, and Saleh desperately misses it. But he and other young people in his group volunteered to welcome patients to MSF diagnostic tents.

Saleh’s action is all the more courageous since the Comorian community suffered greatly from Covid-19, following major community celebrations on March 7 and 14. He knows whole families who have been infected. “Of course, I’m afraid,” said Saleh. ” Everyone is. What motivates me is to see the doctors and nurses. “


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