people in France live in slums


of the sites have no water


people were expelled from slums in 2014


A constant threat of expulsion

Poverty and exclusion force almost 20,000 people to live in slums, of which there are at least 429 in France. In 2012, the government issued a circular decreeing that notice must be given and support offered in advance of any slum clearance. Despite this, 2014 saw expulsions continue to take place under the same dramatic conditions for the residents, with no social assessments being carried out in advance or any rehousing options being offered. These repeated expulsions, sometimes accompanied by physical violence, have a serious impact on people’s health: not only do they distance people from the healthcare system, they also interrupt continuity of care and make it very difficult to implement preventive measures and combat epidemics. This absurd policy has been strongly condemned by France’s National Consultative Commission on Human Rights and the European Commissioner for Human Rights.

Administrative barriers

Residents of slums live in extremely insecure conditions which are detrimental to their health. Despite their urgent need for care, the difficulties they face are immense. If they are to be able to look after themselves and manage their healthcare costs, access to State Medical Aid (AMEinfo-icon) or Universal Health Insurance (CMUinfo-icon) is crucial. However, access to healthcare is delayed by obstacles such as the language barrier, poor knowledge of the French healthcare system, the many conditions governing access and very long processing times.

Children playing in slums ©Jerome Sessini
Children playing in slums ©Jerome Sessini

What we do


In order to help these isolated and vulnerable groups, Doctors of the World is actively involved in the slums. We offer on-site consultations for the vaccination of children, provide healthcare for the people living there and direct them to healthcare facilities. We also provide women with information about contraception and family planning, as well as the importance of regular medical check-ups during pregnancy.


Our staff work as mediators with partners from civil society and mainstream health and social services to improve healthcare provision for those living in slums. We provide them with information about their rights to medical coverage and direct them to medical facilities, both run by civil society organisations and operated by the mainstream health services. We also raise awareness among the people living in slums of the importance of continuity of care, despite the practical difficulties they often face.

Improve living conditions

Almost half of the slums have no waste management system and so Doctors of the World has implemented sanitation provisions. In parallel we work with local authorities to improve hygiene conditions and to find suitable housing solutions. Doctors of the World favours a policy of removing the slums but only if human dignity is respected and we insist on the importance of undertaking assessments of social and healthcare needs in advance and providing long-term rehousing options. Where a lack of decent and sustainable options is offered, we campaign for greater stability in the existing situation, which would allow those living in the slums to exercise their rights and access the care they need.

Almost half of the slums have no waste management system.

Intervention location


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