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French police clear thousands of migrants living rough on streets of Paris

Charlotte Boitiaux, FRANCE 24
3 min

French police on Friday evacuated several thousand migrants from a makeshift camp in northeastern Paris, just over one week after thousands were moved from a larger camp in Calais.


Officers backed by riot police converged early Friday on the streets around the Stalingrad subway station, where migrants and refugees had been living rough.

A total of 82 buses were used to transport them to 80 different temporary shelters around the French capital.

A Paris official said the operation was completed shortly after midday and that 3,852 migrants had been moved out.

FRANCE 24's Charlotte Boitiaux, reporting from the scene, said Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse arrived at 5:30am Paris time to oversee the operation.

She said migrants had been warned of the police operation, and many had gathered their meagre belongings in preparation.

"We knew police were coming today thanks to journalists and aid workers," Abdel, a young Sudanese, told FRANCE 24.

Boitiaux said men travelling alone boarded the first buses, while families, women and children were taken to separate shelters.

The operation proceeded smoothly, with cleaning teams moving in to remove tents and litter.

Officials said the migrants would be redirected from the temporary shelters to refugee centres around the country, if they are eligible to apply for asylum in France.

Migrant camps routinely sprout up in Paris, are cleared out by the authorities, and then sprout up again.

Paris authorities say 19,000 migrants have been shifted to temporary housing since June 2015.

The makeshift camps have become a visible symbol of the country's struggle with the global migrant and refugee crisis

President François Hollande had vowed to shut down the sprawling new camp in Paris, saying they were “shameful” in a country such as France.

The Socialist president played down concerns that the closure of the so-called Calais “Jungle” last week had driven refugees to the French capital.

Most migrants recently amassing around the Stalingrad station are part of a "new migratory flow coming from Libya over the past few weeks and months", Hollande said.

Hollande underscored that while France would shelter asylum-seekers, it would deport those without the right to asylum.

Those gathered in Calais and Paris include refugees fleeing war and persecution, as well as economic migrants in search of a better life.

More than 5,000 migrants were evacuated from the Calais camp last week and transferred to some 450 reception centres around France.

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