Police to evict migrants camped along Paris canals

Following orders from French interior ministry, police are preparing to evict 2,300 migrants camped along canals in Paris.

France’s interior minister Gerard Collomb ordered the city of Paris to forcibly evacuate the migrants living in makeshift camps that have sprung up along its canals in the last few months, saying the camps pose “humanitarian issues” that “are no longer bearable for Parisians.”

Mainly Sudanese, Eritrean and Afghan migrants have been setting up tents on the side of a popular canal in north-eastern Paris used by joggers and cyclists, beside a shopping centre, banks and other businesses.

Two young migrant men, an Afghan and another assumed to be Sudanese or Somali, drowned in the canals earlier this month. Fights for valuables and money have also broken out between migrants leading to injuries and increasing the pressure on the authorities to act.

Earlier this month, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo appealed to the government to urgently provide shelter for migrants sleeping rough in deteriorating “inhuman” conditions on the city’s streets.

The government in turn insisted that the mayor evict illegal immigrants. Collomb said he ordered police to work out an evacuation operation as soon as possible not only to find shelter for migrants but also to run “administrative controls”, and expressed “regret” at Hidalgo’s refusal to evict the group.

The interior minister stressed that that, “the role of the City of Paris will be essential in the preparation of this operation because if the camps are reconstructed” it will have been “useless”. “This situation will be repeated indefinitely if measures are not taken by local authorities to prevent the camps from reconstituting themselves.”

Collomb added that he sees the evictions as an opportunity “to be able to welcome those who can benefit from the protection” of France and a chance “to remove those who are not destined to remain on French territory.”

The evictions will mark the 35th operation of its kind to take place in Paris since the summer of 2015 in which police cleared out some 28,000 migrants.

Twenty-four year old Abdul Jabar travelled for six months from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria to Serbia, and reached France in the third week of May

Jabar, who says his parents encouraged him to make the journey and ask for asylum, says, “It’s very bad here. I have no bed, no food and no shower and it’s very cold at night.”


Migrant tents pitched along a road in northern Paris, 5 May 2017.

TMP – 11/06/2018

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