Migrants in Paris at risk of drowning in canals

More than 2,400 migrants in Paris are currently living in tents along the Canal St Martin and under a nearby bridge.

According to a Reuters report earlier this month, two migrants, one from Afghanistan and one thought to be from Sudan and who both resided in the camp, lost their lives after drowning in the canal.

Charity organizations in France are now expressing concern that the migrants living in the makeshift camp are at risk of both drowning and suffering from violence, if nothing is done to tackle the situation.

“If this situation continues, there will be other dramas, there will inevitably be deaths. And therefore I call on the public authorities to act, and give shelter to the people who are there,” said the director of the France Terre d’Asile charity, Pierre Henry.

According to a charity worker, some of the migrants and asylum-seekers living in the camp have to bathe in the canal, while others are at constant risk of being attacked by people who want to steal their personal belongings.
Suleiman, a 24-year-old migrant from Pakistan, says he was recently beaten as he struggled to prevent people stealing his belongings.

“There is too much crazy people. I see, look, this is my face. I fight yesterday. People take my phone. I have 300 euros, it is taken,” Suleiman explained.

The municipality of Paris and the French national government disagree on how to tackle the situation, with both sides blaming each other.The national government wants to evacuate the camp, while the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, does not think this is the right solution.


Photo caption: Urban migrant camp on the ring road in northern Paris.


TMP – 04/06/2018