French police clear hundreds of migrants from Paris camps

Paris (AFP) –


French police evacuated hundreds of migrants from two camps in northern Paris on Thursday, a day after the government unveiled a series of measures to a "take back control" of immigration.

Around 600 police officers escorted the migrants from tents where coaches transported them to reception centres, in an operation that began under steady rain at around 6:00 am (0500 GMT), an AFP reporter said.

The two camps near the Porte de la Chapelle, sheltered under the ring round that surrounds the capital, were believed to hold between 600 and 1,200 migrants.

Many of the occupants, which included families with children, said they were from Afghanistan or sub-Saharan Africa.

"I cannot allow a dangerous situation like this... all this cannot remain," Paris police chief Didier Lallement told reporters at the scene.

He said the operation, one of the largest in Paris since camps regularly began springing up in 2015, "was decided in the framework of the implementation of the (government) plan, it did not happen y chance."

The government of President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to crack down on immigration, a move widely seen as an attempt to keep rightwing parties from siphoning off voters ahead of municipal elections next year.

"We want to take back control of our migration policy," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a press conference Wednesday, unveiling a series of measures which he said aimed to strengthen France's "sovereignty".

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner warned Wednesday that the several camps housing up to 3,000 migrants in northeastern Paris would be evacuated "before the end of the year."

Castaner also said that 16,000 places would be made available in three new migrant centres, an effort to keep migrants from setting up new settlements.

"It's raining, it's cold. I don't know where I will go, but I'm glad to go because I will have a roof over my head tonight," she said, as she waited in line for a coach, carrying just a backpack.