SHARE
COPY LINK
IN PICTURES

IMMIGRATION

Police clear out ‘2,500’ migrants from Paris camp

Police in Paris carried out their 26th eviction order on a migrant camp on Friday with 2,500 mainly young men from Syria and east Africa evacuated.

Police clear out '2,500' migrants from Paris camp
ALL Photos: AFP

The eviction took place on Friday morning near Juares Metro station on the border of the 10th and 19th arrondissements where the camp had built up underneath the overground train line.

Scores of riot police were drafted in to help with the operation that resulted in tense scenes due to the sheer number of migrants and refugees involved.

While official estimates on the number of migrants in the camp were around 1,500, Le Parisien newspaper suggested the was as high as 2,500 after hundreds more moved into the area on Thursday in order to be part of the eviction.

Tear gas was used as the crowd of migrants pushed forward to get on some of the buses that had been laid on.

The camp had built up over recent months after police had cleared out several others in the neighbouring area and more refugees and migrants arrived in the French capital.

In recent days tensions have flared as the summer heat only worsened the squalid conditions underneath the Metro tracks.

Many migrants and refugees pass through Paris on their way to northern France from where they hope to make it to the UK, while others head for northern Europe from the nearby Gare du Nord train station.

The migrants were put on buses and taken out of the area with around 1,500 short term accommodation places being made available for them around the country.

However many are expected to end of up living on the streets of the capital once again, probably in another squalid makeshift camp that will no doubt emerge.

The head of the French Immigration and Integration Office, Didier Leschi, said some were passing through France and were planning to seek asylum in other European countries.

Others, however, had already been granted asylum in France “but cannot find work and don't know where to live.”

 

Migrant support groups complain of a dire shortage of accommodation for asylum-seekers, saying the 20,000 spaces created in the past two years are insufficient in the face of a constant stream of new arrivals.

Over the past year, squalid camps have repeatedly cropped up in northern Paris — with the police intervening each time to dismantle them.

In May, the city's mayor Anne Hidalgo announced plans to create a refugee camp with proper facilities, scheduled to be up and running in September.

The other main destination in France for refugees and migrants is the northern port of Calais, where thousands of people are camped out in the hope of stowing away in a truck bound for Britain.

Pierre Henry, head of France Terre d'Asile, a charity that helps refugees and asylum seekers, called for other French cities to step up to the plate.

“We need (accommodation) centres in all the regional capitals, to receive the refugees and help them get their bearings, so that people are not drawn just to Paris and Calais,” he said.

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area

European countries agreed on Thursday to push towards a long-stalled reform of the bloc's migration system, urging tighter control of external borders and better burden-sharing when it comes to asylum-seekers.

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area
European interior ministers met in the northern French city of tourcoing, where president Emmanuel Macron gave a speech. Photo: Yoat Valat/AFP

The EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, speaking after a meeting of European interior ministers, said she welcomed what she saw as new momentum on the issue.

In a reflection of the deep-rooted divisions on the issue, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin – whose country holds the rotating EU presidency – said the process would be “gradual”, and welcomed what he said was unanimous backing.

EU countries backed a proposal from French President Emmanuel Macron to create a council guiding policy in the Schengen area, the passport-free zone used by most EU countries and some affiliated nations such as Switzerland and Norway.

Schengen council

Speaking before the meeting, Macron said the “Schengen Council” would evaluate how the area was working but would also take joint decisions and facilitate coordination in times of crisis.

“This council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny,” he said.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place on March 3rd in Brussels.

A statement released after the meeting said: “On this occasion, they will establish a set of indicators allowing for real time evaluation of the situation at our borders, and, with an aim to be able to respond to any difficulty, will continue their discussions on implementing new tools for solidarity at the external borders.”

Step by step

The statement also confirmed EU countries agreed to take a step-by-step approach on plans for reforming the EU’s asylum rules.

“The ministers also discussed the issues of asylum and immigration,” it read.

“They expressed their support for the phased approach, step by step, put forward by the French Presidency to make headway on these complex negotiations.

“On this basis, the Council will work over the coming weeks to define a first step of the reform of the European immigration and asylum system, which will fully respect the balance between the requirements of responsibility and solidarity.”

A planned overhaul of EU migration policy has so far foundered on the refusal of countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to accept a sharing out of asylum-seekers across the bloc.

That forces countries on the EU’s outer southern rim – Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain – to take responsibility for handling irregular migrants, many of whom are intent on making their way to Europe’s wealthier northern nations.

France is pushing for member states to commit to reinforcing the EU’s external borders by recording the details of every foreign arrival and improving vetting procedures.

It also wants recalcitrant EU countries to financially help out the ones on the frontline of migration flows if they do not take in asylum-seekers themselves.

Johansson was critical of the fact that, last year, “45,000 irregular arrivals” were not entered into the common Eurodac database containing the fingerprints of migrants and asylum-seekers.

Earlier, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser suggested her country, France and others could form a “coalition of the willing” to take in asylum-seekers even if no bloc-wide agreement was struck to share them across member states.

She noted that Macron spoke of a dozen countries in that grouping, but added that was probably “very optimistic”.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, hailed what he said was “a less negative atmosphere” in Thursday’s meeting compared to previous talks.

But he cautioned that “we cannot let a few countries do their EU duty… while others look away”.

France is now working on reconciling positions with the aim of presenting propositions at a March 3rd meeting on European affairs.

SHOW COMMENTS