“France is proud to welcome you, just as you were proud to carry its flag, the flag of freedom,” said President Hollande.
The French leader said that his country owed the veterans ‘a debt of blood’. He said this at the Elysee Palace in Paris when handing over the certificates the veterans, most from Senegal between the ages of 78 and 90.
France is expected to hold more naturalization ceremonies for other veterans in the country. Advocacy groups have for a while been demanding for the rights of the veterans, most whom have lived in France for a long time to be recognized. Up until 2010, they received lower pensions than their French counterparts.
Many of the war veterans are still demanding a full apology from France for the West African soldiers shot dead by French troops after demanding equal pay and pensions in 1944.