Thousands of harkis or their descendants will be eligible for new compensation for having stayed in French reception structures in deplorable conditions between 1962 and 1975, the French government announced on Monday, which has decided to expand the list of these sites.
“Up to 14,000 (additional), people could be compensated following their passage through one of these structures,” according to the government statement.
French Muslims mainly recruited as auxiliaries of the French army during the Algerian war of Independence (1954-1962), the harkis were abandoned by France at the end of the conflict. Tens of thousands of them and their families fled retaliatory massacres in Algeria and were herded into France, often in appalling conditions.
The harkis and their descendants today form a community in France of several hundred thousand people.
The government took this decision on the basis of the recommendations of the first annual report of the Independent National Commission for the Recognition and Reparation of Harkis Suffered by Harkis (CNIH), submitted Monday evening to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, in the presence of Patricia Mirallès. , Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs and Memory.
The CNIH was set up as part of the law of recognition and reparation for harkis, promulgated on February 23, 2022, after being announced by President Emmanuel Macron in September 2021.
The law recognizes "the responsibility" of the Nation "because of the indignity of the reception and living conditions on its territory" of the former auxiliaries "housed in structures of any kind" where they were subjected to conditions such that they "have been a source of lasting exclusion, suffering and trauma".
"However, it should be noted that the device resulting from the law of last February 23 is not unanimous. And in a sense, this is understandable: (...) Nothing can completely repair what the harkis have experienced “, says in the introduction to the report Jean-Marie Bockel, president of the CNIH.
"Many sites that hosted harkis between 1962 and 1975 and which are not on the list of structures giving rise to the right to compensation have been reported to the CNIH by various interlocutors", specifies the report.
The government has therefore decided to expand the list of structures that may give rise to compensation (currently 89) by adding 45 new sites proposed by the commission, including military camps, slums, urban settlements, barracks, and " light prefabricated transit cities".
"With this decision (...), it is a new injustice that we are repairing, in particular for regions where until now, the damage suffered by the Harkis who lived there had been little recognized", such as Hauts-de- France or Normandy, Ms. Mirallès told AFP.