Police dismantle migrants’ camp in northern Paris

French police dismantled a tent camp under a railway housing over 2,500 people in northern Paris on Friday, making it the 26th operation of its kind over the past year in the French capital.

This picture shows empty tents during the evacuation of migrants from a makeshift camp by French police on Friday.
This picture shows empty tents during the evacuation of migrants from a makeshift camp by French police on Friday. JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP

Most of the 2,628 migrants evacuated were mainly from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia. They had been living in tents or sleeping rough on mattresses on a strip of ground underneath an elevated railway.

Due to a shortage of places in formal reception centres, the authorities resorted to temporarily housing some of the people in three gyms and a retirement home.

Last weekend, riot police intervened at the site to break up a fight between some of the camp's occupants.

The head of the French Immigration and Integration Office, Didier Leschi, said some of the migrants were passing through France and were planning to seek asylum in other European countries.

Others, however, had already been granted asylum in the country “but cannot find work and don't know where to live”.

“It's very hard, we don't have blankets, showers or toilets,” Mahamat Moussa, a 19-year-old from Chad who arrived in France nearly a year ago, and has sleeping rough in the makeshift camp ever since.

Migrant support groups complain of a dire shortage of accommodation for asylum-seekers, saying the 20,000 spaces created in the past two years are insufficient in the face of a constant stream of new arrivals.

Over the past year, squalid camps have repeatedly cropped up in northern Paris – with the police intervening each time to dismantle them.

In May, the city's mayor Anne Hidalgo announced plans to create a refugee camp with proper facilities, scheduled to be up and running in September.

The other main destination in France for refugees and migrants is the northern port of Calais, where thousands of people are camped out in the hope of stowing away in a truck bound for Britain.

- with AFP

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app