Corey Charlton, Daily Mail, May 28, 2015
Hundreds of migrants living in makeshift camps in Paris have complained that the French city is too loud, stinks of urine and that ‘even in Africa’ they did not have to sleep outdoors.
Making their way to Britain, they have created temporary homes in the shadow of the famed Sacre Coeur basilica, above a Eurostar track leading to London.
Despite their desperation to start what they hope is a better life, the migrants are scathing of their hosts–claiming the city is far too noisy and they were better fed, clothed and housed in Italy.
Authorities are now hoping to move on the migrants, who mostly originate from East Africa.
France has faced a dilemma in the burgeoning global flow of migrants fleeing war, poverty or persecution.
In a densely populated city, where large unoccupied spaces are rare, the football field-sized patch near Paris’ La Chapelle metro station has seen various waves of migration over the years, including Kurds and Afghans.
In the last year, it’s been migrants from Horn of Africa traveling via Sudan and Libya on an often-perilous journey to Europe.
The camp has swollen in the last several weeks: Authorities cite either the flow from a recent surge of crossings to Italy, or a retreat by those expelled by police from Calais, the French city on the English Channel seen by many migrants as a springboard into Britain.
Remi Feraud, who heads the 10th arrondissement, or district, of Paris, said authorities have quietly tried for months to find a better place for the migrants.
But after the recent swell, he and other local leaders want to step up the pace and are breaking their silence–hoping to press the government of President Francois Hollande, a fellow Socialist, into finding a solution.
Feraud said he regretted not going public earlier about the migrants’ plight.
‘Evacuating them without re-housing them gives way to a cat-and-mouse game,’ he said in an interview at Paris city hall.
He said his constituents who live near the site are tolerant, but added: ‘People aren’t stupid. They know that if the camp is dismantled and there’s no lodging, it will reconstitute in one form or another in the same neighborhood.’
The Interior Ministry is working to resolve the issue, and Paris police are taking a wait-and-see approach, officials said.
France Terre d’Asile, an advocacy group for asylum-seekers, has estimated about 340 migrants are at the camp, mainly from Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia–some packed three or four to a tent.
Group director-general Pierre Henry said about a third are eligible for asylum status, while the others were passing through on way to places like Germany, the Nordic countries or Britain.