Police Move on 1,000 Migrants Who Set up Illegal Camps in French Capital

Sara Malm, Daily Mail, March 30, 2016

French police evacuated nearly 1,000 migrants from a makeshift camp underneath the train tracks by a Paris subway station on Wednesday.

Some 985 people were removed from the camp near the Stalingrad metro station in east Paris, which has mushroomed in recent weeks in the wake of the destruction of the Jungle camp in Calais.

The migrants, mostly from Sudan, Eritrea and Afghanistan, will now be housed in emergency shelters for a month, allowing them to begin the asylum process, the Interior Ministry said.

The Paris camp sprung up underneath an elevated section of the metro train track near Stalingrad station earlier this year.

Some 400 people were evacuated on March 7 and taken to shelters, but the camp quickly reformed, with officials noticing more migrants coming into the capital.

‘The pace is increasing, I think there are a large number of people who were in Calais and who are coming to Paris,’ said regional government official Sophie Brocas.

The evacuation was the 19th of its kind in Paris since June last year, which has seen 6,500 migrants moved to emergency shelters.

‘The street should not be a refuge’ for people fleeing persecution, the Interior Ministry said, calling the evacuation necessary for public order, public health and humanitarian reasons.

‘I don’t know where we are going, but it will always be better than here,’ said Ahmed, an Afghan who said he was fleeing ‘the war and the Taliban’.

He is one of several of the migrants to have come from the grim ‘Jungle’ camp in the northern port city of Calais, parts of which were cleared away by authorities earlier this month.

The French government is trying to limit the size of the ‘Jungle’, now home to about 3,500 people, and persuade migrants to give up on their dream of reaching Britain and apply for asylum in France.

Tightened security has reduced nightly bids to sneak onto trucks or storm the port, and increasing numbers of migrants appear to be giving up and coming to Paris.

More than one million migrants–about half of them Syrians–reached Europe via the Mediterranean last year, a rate of arrival that has continued through the first three months of 2016.

France has not seen nearly as many Syrian refugees or other migrants over the past year as Germany or countries farther east, but has experienced tensions around the northern port of Calais, where migrants converge in hopes of crossing into Britain.

The flow of migrants to the Greek islands, meanwhile, seems to be on the rise again as weather warms.

Figures released by the Greek government Wednesday showed 766 people reached the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios and Kos in the 24 hours until Wednesday morning. The number is a roughly a three-fold jump compared with arrivals in previous days.

In Turkey, the coast guard said it rescued dozens of mostly Syrian migrants as they tried to reach Greece in an inflatable dinghy.

Off the coast of Libya, a German combat ship rescued scores of people on Tuesday who were trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa into Italy’s southern islands.

In a bid to control the unprecedented flow of people into member states, the European Union has struck a deal with Turkey to return migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

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