The delicate question of compensation for harkis and their children

Families of harkis after the ceremony in memory of the Algerians who helped the French army during the war of independence, at the Elysée Palace, in Paris, September 20, 2021.

On these administrative offices lie heaps of piles of files. Inside these documents are piled up years of suffering, decades of contempt and countless lives that, for France, have barely counted. These broken destinies are those of the harkis, these fighters engaged in the French armyabandoned with their families by the State the day after the end of the Algerian war (1954-1962), and who were, for so long, imprisoned in an undignified manner in camps, prisons or logging hamlets upon their arrival in France. Since the end of March, 21,273 harkis – or their families – have submitted a compensation file, which will be studied by the recognition and reparation department of the National Office for Veterans and War Victims (ONACVG), a decentralized service in Caen. (Calvados).

Indeed, for six months, the auxiliaries and their descendants can claim compensation – within a very limited framework – which was desired by Emmanuel Macron. A year ago, on September 20, 2021, at the Elysee Palace, the President of the Republic asked them for forgiveness after having recognized “an abandonment of the French Republic” and then promised a recognition and reparation lawwhich was promulgated at the beginning of the year, on 23 February.

Read our story: Article reserved for our subscribers Emmanuel Macron asks “forgiveness” to the harkis by recognizing their “singularity in the history of France”

However, for many harkis, this legislative text revolted them because they estimate that this one is not with the height of the sufferings and other damages undergone. Even though this law recognizes “conditions unworthy of reception” reserved for the 90,000 harkis and their families who fled Algeria, the reparation concerns, in reality, some 50,000 people, those who went through eighty-nine identified structures from 1962 to 1975.

“A recognition, a proof of love”

The amount of reparation is also judged infamous: 2,000 euros for three months lived in a camp, 3,000 for one year, then 1,000 euros for each additional year. The total sum will not exceed 16,000 euros; this figure is based on the Tamazount case law of the Council of State (October 3, 2018), which condemned the State to pay 15,000 euros to a son of a harki in respect of “material and moral damages suffered”.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers France-Algeria: “The harkis deserve better than an incomplete and cynical memorial report about them”

This delicate question of compensation is difficult to pass. Many harkis – and their children – have let it be known that it was “little price paid to have lived through the horror”denouncing “colonial contempt”regretting that the government did not seek to assess the damage suffered, finally being offended that all auxiliaries are not concerned by the reparation.

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