Paris: French police evacuate 1,200 migrants from last camps
Police cleared out two more makeshift Paris migrant camps early on Monday morning, including 800 people who had been living in squalid conditions along the Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement.
Published: 4 June 2018 09:09 CEST
The operation began at 6.30 am at Canal Saint-Martin in the 10th arrondissement of Paris where some 800 migrants, mostly Afghans, have been living for several months.
The police also evacuated a camp of around 300-400 migrants at Porte de la Chapelle (18th arrondissement).
The Paris police said that the migrants would first be sheltered before a “thorough examination of their situation was carried out by the authorities.”
Scores of discarded tents are torn down along the Canal Saint Martin in Paris after the last migrant camp was cleared out this morning. How long until the next one springs up? pic.twitter.com/aKdtDnJpQG
The St Martin Canal is near the site of a sprawling former camp by the Stalingrad Metro stop, which was cleared only to spring up again several times
This is the second operation of its kind to happen in just a few days, with the biggest migrant camp in the French capital evacuated last Wednesday.
This was known as the “Millenaire” or Millennium camp and was home to around 1,700 mainly Sudanese, Somali and Eritrean migrants.
The migrants were to be housed temporarily at more than 20 sites across the Paris region while the authorities checked their identities, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said in a statement.
The Local reported the announcement on May 24th from France's Interior Ministry that thousands of migrants living in camps along stretches of canal in Paris were set to be moved out “quickly” in the 35th evacuation to have taken place in the French capital since summer 2015.
Around 2,300 migrants have been living in makeshift camps along the canals in the north east of the French capital for months.
Firefighters sail an inflatable boat next to a makeshift camp during its evacuation by police. Photo: AFP
The Interior Ministry asked the Paris police to step in to evacuate the camps, saying that Paris City Hall had “regrettably” failed to “request the evacuation of the public area” themselves.
Today the camps pose “humanitarian issues” that “are no longer bearable for Parisians,” Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb said, stressing that “the role of the City of Paris will be essential in the preparation of this operation because if the camps are reconstructed” it will have been “useless”.
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.
Published: 4 February 2022 10:09 CET
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.
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.
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