Tuesday 21 February 2017

Police raid clears hundreds of refugees out of suburb in Paris

Claire StAuburn in Paris

Published 03/06/2015 | 02:30

Authorities had put up signs over the weekend ordering the migrants to leave the camp within 48 hours. Photo: Deposit
Authorities had put up signs over the weekend ordering the migrants to leave the camp within 48 hours. Photo: Deposit

Police in France yesterday cleared several hundred African migrants from a camp under a subway bridge in northern Paris.

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More than 350 refugees, most of them from Sudan, but also from Eritrea, Somalia and Egypt, have been living in the makeshift camp below the metro tracks between the stations of La Chapelle and Barbes-Rochechouart in the north of the French capital.

The camp initially sprang up in the summer of 2014 but swelled in April as fair weather led thousands of migrants to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe.

Authorities had put up signs over the weekend ordering the migrants to leave the camp within 48 hours and early yesterday morning police surrounded the site and blocked nearby traffic.

The refugees, most of them men, but also including several families, waited to board nearby buses to be taken to various shelters in the Paris area.

According to a survey conducted at the site last week by city authorities and refugee associations, 160 people at the camp wanted to stay in France while 200 intended to continue to other destinations, mostly the United Kingdom and Nordic countries.

So far this year, more than 40,000 migrants - many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in countries like Libya and Eritrea - have arrived on Italian shores and some 1,770 have perished on the hazardous journey that's often undertaken on rickety and overcrowded craft.

Currently more than 2,000 migrants live in Calais, most in a makeshift camp dubbed The New Jungle next to the new day-centre, some three miles outside the city centre.

But charities are warning of a likely upsurge in Calais following the record numbers of migrants reaching Italy, many of whom are waved through and make their way to northern Europe.

Britain has said it would refuse to accept a proposal by the European Commission to share the refugees and asylum seekers among the EU's 28 member states.

The riot in Calais on Sunday was the latest in a series of violent incidents in the port. In January, around two hundred migrants fought running battles against one another, with Africans pitched against Afghans.

Last summer, police used tear gas to end fights among hundreds of migrants who were attempting to storm lorries bound for Britain.

Irish Independent

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