Af­ter Calais, France clears Paris camp

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -


Hun­dreds of French po­lice cleared a huge mi­grant camp in north­east Paris yes­ter­day in a fresh sign of the gov­ern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to take refugees off the streets and into shel­ters. The evac­u­a­tion of 3,800 peo­ple from the Stal­in­grad area of the city came less than two weeks af­ter the de­mo­li­tion of the no­to­ri­ous “Jun­gle” camp in the north­ern port city of Calais.

Start­ing at dawn, po­lice ar­rived to wake peo­ple sleep­ing in tents or on mat­tresses under an over­head metro line, 15 min­utes’ walk from the Gare du Nord rail­way sta­tion. The op­er­a­tion pro­ceeded calmly and in or­derly fash­ion, with many mi­grants con­fused about where they would be taken on the gov­ern­ment-char­tered buses but there were no signs of re­sis­tance. “Where are they tak­ing peo­ple? Some­where in Paris or out­side?” asked Ab­der­rah­mane, a 19-year-old from Guinea.

The area around Stal­in­grad, a gritty multi-eth­nic part of the cap­i­tal, is a mag­net for mi­grants ar­riv­ing in Paris and po­lice have re­peat­edly cleared camps there, only for them to spring back into life days later. But six months before elec­tions, So­cial­ist Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande has said he is de­ter­mined to take refugees off the streets and has said France needs to show them a bet­ter wel­come.

While some ac­tivists praise this fresh po­lit­i­cal will to tackle a long-stand­ing prob­lem, they stress that France has been slow to re­act to a cri­sis that has grown in in­ten­sity over the last two years. It has lagged be­hind other coun­tries, Ger­many in par­tic­u­lar, in pro­vid­ing ap­pro­pri­ate lodg­ings for refugees to seek safety.

“Our worry is al­ways the same: that the fa­cil­i­ties in the shel­ters are ab­so­lutely not the same stan­dard,” lo­cal ac­tivist Va­lerie Osouf told AFP, who crit­i­cized dirty and costly ho­tel rooms be­ing used in some cases. Paris Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo has an­nounced the cre­ation of the city’s first refugee tran­sit camp, which will have an ini­tial ca­pac­ity for 400 men. It is set to open this month in a dis­used rail­way yard in the north of the cap­i­tal.—AFP

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