French police clear last north Paris migrant camp ‘overrun by rats’
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French police on Tuesday cleared the last migrant tent camp in northeast Paris, moving 427 people to shelters as part of a plan to take migrants off the streets.
The migrants, who included four women, were living in 266 tents and makeshift shelters in a canal-side camp "strewn with waste and refuse, overrun by rats and giving off a pestilent and foul-smelling odour of urine and excrement", according to the authorities.
The operation to tear down the camp began at 6:00 am (0500 GMT) and lasted two hours, the regional prefecture said.
#Paris19 | Fin de l'opération d'évacuation à la porte de la #Villette des campements qui mettaient en péril la salubrité des lieux et la sécurité des personnes, tant des occupants que des riverains. pic.twitter.com/OCNf4vBdus— Préfecture de Police (@prefpolice) February 4, 2020
Dozens of informal settlements have sprung up in recent years around the French capital.
Many of the migrants have their sights on the northern Channel port of Calais, a jump-off point for crossings to Britain.
The authorities regularly tear down the camps, saying they pose a health hazard.
Last week, police moved more than 1,400 migrants, including 93 children, from another camp in northern Paris.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had promised to clear all migrant camps from the city by the end of last year, in part by opening more shelters for asylum seekers but also by deporting those whose claims are rejected.
Police are being deployed to ensure migrants do not return to the razed camps or set up new ones.
"We are not going to resume a never-ending cycle of evacuations followed by new installations," Paris police chief Didier Lallement said last week.
But critics say that unless the government provides long-term lodgings or the prospect of legal residency, many migrants will just return to the streets.
President Emmanuel Macron said last year that France must end its "lax" approach to immigration.
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