Police evict refugees from makeshift Paris camp

About 1,000 refugees and migrants, mostly Afghans and Africans, expelled from the Porte de la Chapelle area.

Migrants evicted in Paris, France today
Around 350 police officers cleared a camp in France's capital, Paris [Philippe Lopez/AFP]

French authorities have moved to clear out a makeshift refugee camp in northeast Paris.

Local media reports estimate that the site housed about a thousand mostly African and Afghan refugees and migrants.

Up to 350 members of the police force took part in the operation at the Porte de La Chapelle area, police said on Tuesday.

No clashes were reported.

The settlement at the Porte de la Chapelle area of the city was located just metres from a new refugee transit centre set up by Paris city authorities late last year to take asylum-seekers off the streets but which has limited space available.

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The makeshift camps present “major risks for the security and health of their occupants as well as for local residents”, Paris police said in a statement.

Police halted road traffic on a major crossroads in the north of the city in order to gain access to the camp, where a fight between residents last month left several injured.

“The government will take us into houses. I don’t know where but it’s fine,” said Said, who said he had been sleeping outside for a month.

“For some, it’s been three months or more.”

Last month, a huge fire gutted one of France’s biggest migrant camps, housing 1,500 people near the northern French port of Dunkirk, which started after a brawl involving hundreds of Afghans and Kurds.

As millions of refugees and migrants arrived in Europe in recent years after fleeing war and economic devastation, France has welcomed only a fraction of the newcomers.

Makeshift camps crop up again and again in the French capital due to lack of capacity at official accommodation centres for refugees and migrants.

Jungle refugee camp

A similar operation took place in November, when thousands of migrants were cleared out from a squalid camp in Paris, which had doubled in size after the closure of the so-called Jungle refugee camp in Calais, northern France.

The clearance six months ago of the Calais camp has not stopped refugees from gathering there, the charity Care4Calais warned last month. 

About 400 refugees live in three small camps in the French port city, in far worse conditions than the Jungle, the report said.

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“Living rough on the streets means no access to sanitation at all, with scabies, fungal infections and gum infections at an all time high,” the organisation said.

Calais has been a magnet for refugees trying to reach Britain for more than a decade. From there, refugees try to break into lorries heading to Britain.

French authorities are determined to demonstrate that Calais is now a migrant-free zone, which has led to an increasingly hostile environment for refugees.

Police focus on arrests and detention to discourage a refugee presence on the streets.

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies