News 30.5.2018 09:25 am

Police evacuate biggest migrant camp in Paris

Migrants prepare to board a bus taking them to migrants reception centres of the region on May 24, 2018 in Grande-Synthe, northern France, during an evacuation operation of Kurdish migrants from Iraq, settled near a gymnasium. Picture: AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen.

Migrants prepare to board a bus taking them to migrants reception centres of the region on May 24, 2018 in Grande-Synthe, northern France, during an evacuation operation of Kurdish migrants from Iraq, settled near a gymnasium. Picture: AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen.

Security forces moved in on the biggest migrant camp in the French capital on Wednesday where some 1 700 people lived in makeshift tents alongside a canal.

The migrants would 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.

CRS riot police were deployed at dawn, some arriving by boat, as the migrants emerged from their tents and waited patiently to be bussed away from the Port de la Villette camp in the northeast of Paris.

“We don’t really know where we are going,” said a Libyan who reached Paris seven months ago and gave his name as Issam.

A man waves in a bus taking migrants to reception centres of the region on May 24, 2018 in Grande-Synthe, northern France, during an evacuation operation of Kurdish migrants from Iraq, settled near a gymnasium. / AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN

“It was hard here,” he added, holding on to his one piece of baggage.

The “Millenaire”, or Millennium camp, was home mainly to Sudanese, Somali and Eritrean migrants.

Two similar camp sites in the capital along the Canal St Martin, which houses 800 mostly Afghan migrants, and the Porte de la Chapelle, home to 300-400 people, would also be quickly evacuated, said regional prefect Michel Cadot.

“The other camps will be evacuated as soon as possible next week,” Cadot told reporters.

The authorities said the dawn operation on Wednesday was the 35th such evacuation in Paris in the last three years, as thousands of migrants have arrived seeking a better life.

 

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