Police have moved to clear out some 1500 people from the largest makeshift migrant camp in Paris, which has become a focal point in France’s immigration debate.
The mainly African migrants were being moved out of their tent camp along a canal used by joggers and cyclists on the city’s northeast edge, put in buses and taken to gymnasiums in the Paris region. Bulldozers then tore down the tent city along quay.
Two migrants drowned this month in canals along encampments and others have been injured amid rising tensions in the filthy, crowded camps, adding pressure for authorities to act.
“To stay one month here is very, very, very bad for me. All the people have sicknesses and not have food,” said Sudanese Farouk Ahmed.
President Emmanuel Macron wants a tough response to migrants arriving in France. Two days ago, he nevertheless opened the way to citizenship and a job for a Malian migrant who scaled a building and saved a young child dangling from a balcony in what Macron called “an exceptional act.” A video of Mamoudou Gassama’s feat went viral, gaining him the nickname Spiderman.
“This is very good for refugees … refugees are helping people,” Ahmed said of Gassama’s heroism, claiming that the French regard refugees as “bad.”
Police have cleared out some 28,000 migrants from Paris camps in the past three years, but the arrivals continue.