Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Migrant camp evacuated in Paris

  • The makeshift camp in Paris. More than 4,000 people have previously been removed in two previous operations in July and September. (Photo: Reuters)

French police have started removing some 3,000 migrants from a makeshift camp in Paris, on Friday morning (4 November), 10 days after a larger, similar operation in Calais.

Some 600 policemen started to gather people at 6AM in order to put them on buses that will take them to reception centers in the area.

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The camp, made of tents across several streets in the north-east of Paris, is mainly occupied by Sudanese, Eritreans, and Afghans. Most were on their way to Calais, almost 300 kilometres north, where they would try to reach the UK.

More than 4,000 people had already been evacuated in two previous operations in July and September. But numbers have again risen in recent weeks as the government dismantled the Calais camp.

Many of those in the camp could not continue to Calais, while others came from the emptied Calais camp.

Last week the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, described a "dramatic humanitarian and health situation", saying that giving a shelter to the people was an "absolute necessity".

After the evacuation of more than 5,000 from Calais, the French government cannot afford the creation of another camp in the heart of the capital a few months before next spring's presidential and legislative elections.

"We could not tolerate the camps [in Calais] and we will not tolerate others," president Francois Hollande said after the dismantlement of the so-called Jungle in Calais.

He added that camps were "not worthy of what welcoming can be in France".

Migrants who want to go to the UK are not just stranded in France because of the English Channel, but also because of the Touquet agreement, by which people are checked in France before crossing, and not on British soil when they arrive.

Politicians in the Calais region have called for a renegotiation of the Touquet agreement so the UK takes responsibility for border controls and processing of asylum claims.

The call for change is now national ahead of upcoming elections. In a debate on Thursday evening, all presidential nomination candidates for the centre-right Republicans party said that that the agreement should be renegotiated.

One using the word for the centres in Italy and Greece, where migrants entering the Schengen area are registered and identified, said France had become "Europe's largest hotspot."

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