Ahead of the Paris Olympics, police clear a migrant camp near City Hall

Paris police have evicted migrants from a makeshift tent camp next to City Hall, the latest clear-out that aid groups allege is a campaign of ’’social cleansing″ ahead of the Summer Olympics

Nicolas Garriga
Tuesday 30 April 2024 09:53 BST

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French police evicted migrants from a makeshift tent-camp next to Paris City Hall early on Tuesday, the latest clear-out of people without homes that aid groups allege is a campaign of ’’social cleansing″ ahead of the Summer Olympics.

In the operation that began before dawn, police woke around 100 teenage boys and young men from West Africa, telling them to pack their tents and belongings.

Paris police said the operation was carried out for security reasons, notably because the camp was near schools.

Paris-region officials told the men — many of them minors and in the process of seeking residency papers — that they could be housed temporarily for three weeks in the Loire-region town of Angers if they wished. A bus was waiting in a nearby street to take them first to a Paris-region transit center.

Only two or three men boarded the bus. Most of the others walked away, carrying their belongings. Some said they feared being left isolated and abandoned in Angers, 250 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the French capital, once the three weeks of temporary accommodation run out.

Migrant camps are commonly dismantled every spring in France with the end of an annual winter-time “truce” that limits evictions and evacuations when the weather is cold.

But aid groups working with migrants and other vulnerable people say clear-outs are intensifying ahead of the July 26-Aug. 11 Olympics. They say that people are being sent far from the capital instead of being offered shelter in the Paris region, where many asylum-seekers have upcoming court dates and meetings with officials about their residency requests.

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AP Olympics coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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