Police remove 1,600 migrants from Paris camps

Following promises of increased immigration crackdowns and controls, two of Paris’ large migrant camps, one at Porte de la Chapelle and one at Seine-Saint-Denis, were raided on Thursday 7 November. 

The dismantling of the camps came just a day after the French president Macron declared that the government would work towards closing down all makeshift camps in Paris by the end of the year.

More than 1,600 immigrants have been driven out of these makeshift camps and the police have warned that any attempts to re-establish these camps, as has happened in the past, could result in individuals being sent to detention camps. Over a thousand immigrants and refugees lived in the dire and squalid conditions, cramped under overcrowded tents. As the Guardian reported, children and adults alike had been sleeping “under bridges and canals” around the areas of Northern Paris and Seine-Saint-Denis for prolonged periods of time, and the conditions have meant that migrants are prone to the spread of diseases and unhygienic living standards. There have been many complaints about rats, water shortages and crowded conditions.

The camps were demolished and cleared away on the morning of the 7 November, and the migrants have been temporarily taken away on buses to gym halls and buildings to reside in until a decision is made on their status. Details have been taken by the authorities in order to identify the migrant status of the individuals. The Deputy Mayor of Paris, Dominique Versini, has estimated that “around 15% to 20%” of the refugees have, in fact, been granted asylum, but have not been able to find an affordable place to live. Many local politicians have turned to the state, demanding that the government needs to offer adequate accommodation and opportunities for asylum seekers and migrants in order to avoid the rise in migrant camps throughout Paris, and the country as a whole. As Versini has stressed, the evacuation of the camps at Porte de la Chapelle and Seine-Saint-Denis marked the 59th time that the makeshift camps in Paris have been cleared since 2015. This inability to permanently solve the dire migrant crisis in Paris, especially since the closure of the camps of Calais in 2016, has led to a new strong stance taken by the President Macron, determined to permanently shut down all the makeshift camps. The situation is clearly not only a problem in Paris, but nationwide, and conditions are worsening as winter draws near, with a 25 year old Nigerian man dying just last week after attempting to light a small fire inside his tent. The operation has been described by police authorities and politicians as humanitarian as they plan to find permanent housing for all legal migrants. Permanent police forces are to be placed at the campsites in order to ensure that people do not return to sleeping rough on the streets of Paris.

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Piriyanga Thirunimalan