Tokyo, Japan, Jul 22 – Police in Paris on Friday dismantled a tented camp under a railway housing over 1,000 people from Afghanistan and east Africa, part of an ongoing move to clear camps sprouting up around the French capital.
The operation in northern Paris was the 26th of its kind over the past year in the city, which is struggling to accommodate asylum seekers.
Between 1,200 and 1,400 people, mainly men from Eritrea, Somalia and Afghanistan, had been living in tents or sleeping rough on mattresses on a strip of ground underneath an elevated railway.
They were taken by bus to reception centres around the country.
Last weekend, riot police intervened at the site to break up a fight between some of the camp’s occupants.
The head of the French Immigration and Integration Office, Didier Leschi, said some were passing through France and were planning to seek asylum in other European countries.
Others, however, had already been granted asylum in France “but cannot find work and don’t know where to live.”
Migrant support groups complain of a dire shortage of accommodation for asylum-seekers, saying the 20,000 spaces created in the past two years are insufficient in the face of a constant stream of new arrivals.
In May, the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo announced plans to create a refugee camp with proper facilities, scheduled to be up and running in September.
The other main destination in France for refugees and migrants is the northern port of Calais, where thousands of people are camped out in the hope of stowing away in a truck bound for Britain.
Pierre Henry, head of France Terre d’Asile, a charity that helps refugees and asylum seekers, called for other French cities to step up to the plate.
“We need (accommodation) centres in all the regional capitals, to receive the refugees and help them get their bearings, so that people are not drawn just to Paris and Calais,” he said.