French police clear hundreds of migrants from Paris camps
French police have evacuated hundreds of migrants from two camps in northern Paris, one day after the government unveiled a series of measures intended to take back control of immigration.
Around 600 police officers escorted the migrants from tents to coaches which transported them to reception centres, in an operation that began under steady rain at around 6:00 am on Thursday.
The two camps near the Porte de la Chapelle, sheltered under the ring road that surrounds the capital, were believed to hold between 600 and 1,200 migrants.
Many of the occupants, which included families with children, said they were from Afghanistan or sub-Saharan Africa.
"I cannot allow a dangerous situation like this... all this cannot remain," Paris police chief Didier Lallement told reporters at the scene.
The government of President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to crack down on immigration, a move widely seen as an attempt to keep rightwing parties from siphoning off voters ahead of municipal elections next year.
"We want to take back control of our migration policy," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a press conference on Wednesday, unveiling a series of measures which he said aimed to strengthen France's "sovereignty".
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned on Wednesday that the camps housing up to 3,000 migrants in northeastern Paris would be evacuated "before the end of the year."
Castaner also said that 16,000 places would be made available in three new migrant centres, an effort to keep migrants from setting up new informal settlements in the capital.