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    Senior Member European Knight's Avatar
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    Discover migrants in the heart of Paris whose fate seems to have played beforehand

    Discover the camp of migrants in the heart of Paris whose fate seems to have played beforehand


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    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    WOW! What are the citizens saying about this?

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    Senior Member European Knight's Avatar
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    Paris authorities clear thousands of migrants from makeshift camp known as 'Stalingrad'
    Kim Willsher


    Hundreds of French riot police wielding bulletproof shields surrounded the tents and cardboard shelters of Paris’ largest migrant camp Friday, clearing thousands of refugees and other migrants who had sought shelter in the French capital.

    In recent weeks, scenes at the squalid makeshift camp under the arches of the Stalingrad subway station in north Paris have invited comparisons to a Third World slum.

    The existence of shantytown settlements in the heart of the capital has sparked angst and anger across France, which is heading for presidential and legislative elections next year in which the far-right National Front is expected to make historic gains.

    Ian Brossat, a deputy mayor in Paris’ Socialist administration, said the Stalingrad camp brought “shame on our country.”

    “To see people in the streets in these makeshift camps in the sixth-biggest economic power in the world is clearly not acceptable,” Brossat told journalists earlier this week.

    The Pew Research Center, an American think tank, estimates more than a million people sought asylum in Europe between July 2015 and May 2016, many of them fleeing wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, but also from conflicts in the Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The International Organization for Migration estimates the current incoming refugee rate is 17% higher.

    Many of the refugees arrive in France from Italy or Spain with the aim of passing through France to Britain. With the tightening of Britain’s borders, thousands have found themselves stuck around France’s western coastal towns and at major rail stations in Paris, particularly the Gare du Nord, where the Eurostar high-speed train departs for the U.K.

    With the closure last week of the notorious Jungle camp near the coastal town of Calais, the number of migrants sleeping on the streets in the French capital has spiked, reaching more than 3,800 people — with winter approaching.

    Anne Lescot, of the French philanthropic organization Fondation de France, who has worked with Paris migrants, accused the French government of being ill-prepared for Europe’s migration crisis and showing little coordinated planning in how to solve the problem.

    “The [French] state was warned there would be an influx of refugees, and it totally failed to anticipate for this or prepare to receive them,” Lescot told the Los Angeles Times.

    “We are seeing camps in Paris because it is where the main European rail lines converge, so this is where people end up. If humanitarian organizations were capable of predicting their arrival, one would have thought the state could have been equally forewarned, but our politicians were simply not prepared.”

    Lescot warned that until the authorities provide proper shelter for refugees, many would return to makeshift camps where there was at least solidarity and safety in numbers.

    “I know of families who have been put in hotels way out of Paris that are so disgusting they are covered in flea bites. They have no money, nothing to eat and no support. It’s little surprise if they prefer to sleep on the streets where there are humanitarian organizations supplying food and doctors and advice, and where there is at least some human warmth,” she said.

    In the past 18 months, French authorities have bulldozed the Paris camps on at least 30 occasions. Each time, the migrants have returned within days. Officials said the Stalingrad camp would be destroyed at the same time police finally razed the Jungle camp at Calais, which had been home to about 10,000 refugees.

    Friday’s evacuation, a joint operation between government and city authorities, took migrants to temporary shelter in “reception centers,” from which they are to be forwarded on to permanent accommodations.

    Women, minors and the most vulnerable were bused to centers in the Paris region, while lone men were dispersed throughout France.


    Migrants had no idea where they were going, but these were buses few wanted to miss. By the time the police arrived, they already had packed their belongings into battered cases or plastic bags, abandoned their tents and sleeping bags and were lined up huddled under blankets to keep out the pre-dawn chill.

    Each time a bus pulled up and opened its doors, there was a surge to board. “Women and children first,” shouted officials as toddlers and babies were pushed through the crowd or over it, to the front of the line.

    Wahab, a 25-year-old from Sudan, waited in one of the lines. “I couldn’t really sleep. I was cold, and I was waiting to leave. I was afraid the bus would leave without me,” he said. Like most of those interviewed, he feared reprisals if he gave his last name.

    Wallad, 17, had come from Sudan via Egypt, Libya and Italy, and was in tears because he had been sleeping away from the Stalingrad camp and had missed the buses.

    “I have been in Paris for a month, and I’m hopeful of getting to the U.K.,” he said. “I don’t like Paris. My cousin is in Scotland, and he says it’s good there, but the people smugglers are charging 5,000 pounds [roughly $6,250] to take people to the U.K. from Belgium, and I don’t have the money.”

    Anne Hidalgo, Paris’ mayor, described the camp as a “terrible humanitarian and health issue.” She said finding accommodations for the migrants was essential and clearing the camp would allow city authorities to start with a clean slate to deal with the estimated 80 people who arrive in the capital every day in a “humane” and controlled way.

    “The aim is to give these people shelter. They should have a roof over their heads,” Hidalgo said. “When you have had no sleep or have slept on the street, and have not had food, how can you think about the future. How can you reflect on what you are going to do?”


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