Police evacuate around 1,600 migrants from makeshift camps in Paris

Almost 600 police officers were deployed to evacuate over 1,600 people from two makeshift migrant camps in northern Paris on 7 October. Evacuees, who are mostly from Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa, were escorted to shelters, according to authorities.

For the camp residents who are living irregularly in France, the clearances increase their chances of being detected, arrested and deported. Many fled the camps before the security forces arrived.

However, other residents have refugee status and are living in the camps because they are unable to find affordable accommodation, according to local news agency, France24.

Many of them welcomed the dismantling of the camp due to the poor conditions in which they were living. Muhammad, an Afghan migrant, called the evacuation ‘a good reaction.’

The camps were set up under the flyovers of the ring-road that circles the city and are made up of tents and tarpaulin sheets. As winter approaches and temperatures drop, the makeshift shelters may not be enough to protect residents from the elements.

Awa, a woman from the Ivory Coast, told AFP news agency: “It’s raining, it’s cold.” She added: “I don’t know where I will go, but I’m glad to go because I will have a roof over my head tonight.”

This police intervention is part of a recent package of migration management measures introduced by the French government. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe justified the plan, saying: “It’s about sovereignty,” the prime minister said. “We want to take back control of our immigration policy.”

The government plans to shut down all makeshift camps by the end of the year. In parallel, it commits to opening up new accommodation facilities to host up to 16,000 more migrants. It also intends to open three more detention centres for irregular migrants.

Yann Manzi, the head of Utopia56, a local migrant charity, said: “It’s clear that for people who have already had their asylum claims rejected […] things will become much harder.”

TMP – 25/11/2019

Photo credit: Harriet Hadfield / Shutterstock.com

Photo caption: PARIS – MAY 5, 2017: Urban migrant camp on the ring road in northern Paris.