Nearly 100 people have been arrested after police moved in to clear a migrant camp in Paris. Law enforcement officers clashed with refugees and activists, amid a wider campaign to clear illegal immigrants from the French capital.
French police started surrounding the camp at Rue Pajol in the 18th district of Paris that housed around 100 migrants at about 14:00 local time. Migrants and activists formed a human chain as they refused to abandon the site.
However, after more than an hour, a few clashes began to breakout between the police and the activists. Officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd and made subsequent arrests.
“We were trying to feed them when riot police arrived,” Fanny Gaillard, an adviser to Paris’s 19th district, told 20 Minutes, after nearly 350 migrants were evacuated from similar camps on June 3 and June 5.
Local media reported that around 90 people including activists were detained, with police carrying people away onto buses by force. Their actions were met with boos from the crowd, who held placards reading: “Freedom, freedom,” “Solidarity with immigrants,” and “We are the Republic.”
Those who were arrested were placed onto two buses and were taken to an undisclosed location. Others were taken to hospital, with at least three people being reported injured.
On June 5, police carried out a similar crackdown near La Chapelle. Almost 350 people, mostly Sudanese and Eritreans had been living there before being forced to seek alternative shelter. Last week, French forces also evacuated migrants camped outside the nearby Saint-Bernard Church.
Police were criticized for using unnecessary force during the evictions following a wave of migrant makeshift camp closures. The authorities have also been slammed for failing to provide adequate accommodation and ignoring pledges to find them with shelter, regardless of whether the migrants are seeking asylum in France.
“We continue to request the opening of a gymnasium for charities to take care of them,” Gaillard said.
Ahead of Monday’s raid, the Green party officials at the Paris Municipal Council “solemnly requested [Paris mayor] Anne Hidalgo to open a shelter for [the migrants] starting this evening.”
The head of the French Communist Party (PCF), Pierre Laurent, said on Twitter that he was “revolted” by Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ choice to “send security forces against the refugees at Pajol.”
The influx of immigrants has left many European countries, namely Italy, Greece, Malta, Germany and Sweden, exhausted by the burden, with the number of those crossing the Mediterranean to get to Europe increasing.
Over 80,000 have arrived so far this year, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 1,820 others have died or gone missing while trying to get to Europe. Under the proposed emergency relocation plan (which would have to be backed by member states and the European Parliament) countries will reportedly receive “€6,000 ($6,531) for each person relocated on their territories” from EU coffers.
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