Police use tear gas to clear Paris migrant camp
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Several dozen migrants living in a makeshift camp in northern Paris were driven out Monday by French security forces, who used teargas to disperse activists and politicians who had come to support the migrants.
The undocumented migrants, who had been living in a camp outside the Vaclav-Havel library on rue Pajol in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, were driven out by French gendarmes and riot squads in an afternoon raid.
Officials herded migrants onto a bus, which left the working class neighbourhood in the north of Paris, shortly after 4pm, bound for an unknown destination. According to a police source quoted by AFP, 84 people were evacuated from the scene. Activists told FRANCE 24 that several migrants had been released by Monday evening.
About 40 activists and elected officials wearing scarves in the colour of the French flag were also at the scene to show their support for the refugees. The security forces used teargas to disperse the gathering, also arresting several activists.
The national secretary of the Communist Party, Pierre Laurent, said on Twitter that he was “revolted” by Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ choice to “send security forces against the refugees at Pajol”.
Lack of housing
Some migrants had been sleeping on rue Pajol at night, while others just came during the day to take advantage of food and clothes offered by several organisations who had set up shop there.
Most of the migrants said they had come to rue Pajol after police dismantled a camp near La Chapelle, in the same neighbourhood, on June 5. Almost 350 people, mostly Sudanese and Eritreans had been living there in squalid conditions, which FRANCE 24 witnessed when our journalist visited the camp before its closure to speak to migrants. The police were criticised for using unnecessary force during the evacuation.
Associations and numerous elected officials from the left criticised the lack of accommodation provided for the migrants expelled from La Chapelle, despite the fact that the authorities had pledged to find shelter for each of them, whether or not they are seeking asylum in France.
On Monday, Green party officials at the Paris Municipal Council “solemnly requested [Paris mayor] Anne Hidalgo to open a shelter for [the migrants] starting this evening.”
The La Chapelle evacuation and the one at Pajol on Monday are part of a series of police raids targeting undocumented migrants who have set up camp in northern Paris.
Last Friday, French forces also evacuated several dozen migrants camped outside the nearby Saint-Bernard Church. This church has played a recurrent role in France’s immigration history: in 1996, a group of undocumented migrants, including women and children, sought sanctuary in the church before being forcibly removed by French security forces. The dramatic event created a media storm and pushed the issue of undocumented migrants into the French public conscience.
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