‘Astonished’ Germany says Hungary canceled foreign minister meeting

French N. African doctors attribute emigration to the rise of the extreme right

PARIS: In the southern French city where Tunisian doctor Tasnime Labied works, the far-right National Assembly, or RN, took the top spot with 41 percent in the first round of French elections. Now he is thinking of moving to Switzerland.
“We are already not spoiled here, but if we have (Jordan) Bardella as prime minister, it will be dark.” They are playing on the fear of the other,” said Labier, 33, referring to the president of the Republic of Moldova.
She moved to France in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic for her medical internship and now works as a microbiologist with a salary lower than that of her French colleagues.
After the RN came out on top in the first round of French legislative elections last week, some foreign doctors are questioning whether they will stay in a country that does not respect their rights or make them welcome.
Polls predict that RN will win most of the parliamentary seats, but not the majority.
Among 11 doctors of North African descent or nationality interviewed by Reuters, six said they were considering leaving France because of the political situation.
A doctor immigrated to Canada a month ago.


Tunisian doctor Tasnime Labied moved to France in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic for her medical internship and now works as a microbiologist with a salary lower than that of her French colleagues.

With only 3.17 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, France has the worst shortage of doctors among OECD countries after Luxembourg. There are 1.73 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants in Labijedovo.
“We live in enormous hypocrisy. The far right is making progress in France on immigration, and migrants are portrayed as a problem. But if migrants stopped working tomorrow, our entire social and economic system would be paralyzed,” Hisham Benais, a sociologist at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, CNRS, told Reuters.
In a study of 350 doctors of North African descent in France, to be published next year, Benaissa found that 75 percent of doctors, including people educated abroad and those born in France, are considering emigrating.
RN did not respond to requests for comment.
Bardella, the most likely candidate for prime minister if the RN defies the polls and wins a working majority, said last month that “our compatriots of foreign citizenship or origin who work, pay taxes, obey the law and love our country have nothing to fear.”
RN leader Marine Le Pen has previously proposed “drastically reducing” the recruitment of doctors with qualifications from outside the EU and prioritizing French candidates for the job.
In 2023, 29,238 doctors working in France were trained outside the EU, an increase of 90.5 percent since 2010, accounting for about 7 percent of the total workforce, according to the National Council of the Medical Order, or CNOM.
North African doctors make up more than half of them.
Doctors with qualifications from outside the EU must complete exams and administrative procedures to be registered with the Medical Association, which usually takes three to five years. Before that, they were paid less than French doctors.
Vidad Abdi, a doctor and representative of the SNPADHUE union of doctors qualified outside the EU, says that politicians are not dealing with structural problems.
“Foreign or not, more and more doctors are leaving — the health system does not encourage them to stay: working conditions, wages, hours, the number of patients has increased, and the number of doctors has decreased.
In the first round of parliamentary elections, the RN did better in regions with poor access to health care, with a correlation rate of -52 percent, according to a Reuters analysis of the results and data on access to a local doctor, an indicator of the party’s success. in deprived rural areas.
In cities that put RN candidates first, more than a quarter of the population has no access to a local doctor, compared to 13 percent in cities where President Emmanuel Macron’s group is in first place and 8 percent in cities won by the leftist alliance.
Improving access to public health services in areas with poor access to health care, called “medical deserts”, is one of the promises of the RN campaign.
Foreign doctors, as well as French doctors of immigrant origin, play an essential role in these areas, where positions are less prestigious than in big city hospitals, says Benaissa.
In Ales in the south of France, half of the votes went to the RN. Emergency physician Leila Elamrani, who moved to France from Morocco in 2004, says they are feeling the pressure in their service, which receives patients from surrounding areas.
“People don’t have GPs, so they come here for a cold, for a doctor’s order to take sick leave,” she said. “That, plus an aging population and a lack of resources, is creating a huge mess.”
Lydia Boumaarafi, a French doctor of Algerian origin who specializes in addicts, is not waiting to see what happens. She moved to Canada a month ago in part because of “her approach to multiculturalism.”
“The situation is at a peak now (with the RN vote), but the climate has been like this for some time,” she said. (Reporting by Leila Forudy; Additional reporting by Lee Thomas; Editing by Richard Lough and Angus MacSwan)

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