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France: More 'Harkis' Fighters to Get Reparations

FILE - French president Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a ceremony in memory of the Harkis, Algerians who helped the French Army in the Algerian War of Independence, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on Sept. 20, 2021.

PARIS — France has paved the way leading to the payment of reparations to more relatives of Algerians who sided with France in its independence war but were then interned in French camps, the government said Monday.

Now "up to 14,000 (more) people could receive compensation after transiting through one of these structures," it said (referring to the camps that the Algerian loyalist fighters were forced to live in after helping France in the independence war), signaling possible reparations for the loyalist fighters, known as the "Harkis" and their descendants.

Secretary of state Patricia Miralles said the decision hoped to "make amends for a new injustice, including in regions where until now the prejudices suffered by the "Harkis" living there were not recognized."

Over 200,000 Algerians fought with the French army in the war that pitted Algerian independence fighters against their French colonialists from 1954 to 1962.

At the end of the war, the French government left the loyalist fighters known as "Harkis" to fend for themselves, despite earlier promises it would look after them.

Trapped in Algeria, many were massacred as the new authorities took revenge.

Thousands of others who fled to France were held in camps, often with their families, in deplorable conditions that an AFP investigation recently found led to the deaths of dozens of children, most of them babies.

In 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron asked for "forgiveness" on behalf of the French for abandoning the "Harkis" and their families after independence.

The following year, a law was passed to recognize the state's responsibility for the "indignity of the hosting and living conditions on its territory", which caused "exclusion, suffering and lasting trauma", and recognized the right to reparations for those who had lived in 89 of the internment camps.

But following a new report, 45 new sites, including military camps, slums and shacks, were added on Monday to that list of places the "Harkis" and their relatives were forced to live, the government said.

Macron has spoken out on a number of France's unresolved colonial legacies, including nuclear testing in Polynesia, its role in the Rwandan genocide and war crimes in Algeria.