French Police Dismantle Migrants’ Camps in Paris and Calais After Weekend Clashes

French Police Dismantle Migrants’ Camps in Paris and Calais After Weekend Clashes

Radio Erena : 02 June 2015


French police dismantled a makeshift migrant camp that had popped up in the heart of the capital, the latest sign of a major influx into Europe that France and other countries are struggling to contain.

About 380 migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia had set up tents under a subway bridge in northern Paris—the largest migrant camp to appear in the city in recent years, according to authorities. The migrants, including about 76 women and children, were taken by bus Tuesday to emergency housing in and around Paris.


Around the same time, police dismantled two camps in and outside the port of Calais, a day after 24 migrants were injured during a fight between Sudanese and Eritreans there. About 140 people were picked up; some were being detained by police, while others were relocated to shelters.

“About 200 Sudanese stormed a camp, setting tents on fire and shouting ‘Allahu akbar’,” or God is great, said Gilles Debove, a Calais police union representative.

France has been struggling to handle hundreds of migrants transiting the country, many of them fleeing conflicts in Africa and the civil war in Syria. After risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean, many head for the U.K. in search of a better life, but get stuck on the French side of the Channel.

Calais, with both ferry and train access to the U.K., has emerged as a key bottleneck, where the growing number of migrants has fueled cross-Channel tensions as well as a local backlash.

Some have resorted to staying in impromptu waystations along the way, such as the one in La Chapelle, a rundown neighborhood behind Paris’s Gare du Nord train station.

Mohamet Ismael, 28 years old, who arrived from Sudan a few weeks ago, said that he wasn’t allowed back into the camp after returning from morning prayers at a nearby mosque. “I need to get back in to collect my bag, and my shoes before leaving,” he said. A small group of people showed up to express support for the migrants.

About 160 of those relocated in Paris have applied or plan to apply for political asylum in France, said Police Commissioner Bernard Boucault. “But the majority of them are just passing through,” he said.

The European Union is straining to forge a joint approach to deal with the unprecedented flows of migrants ranging from political refugees to undocumented job seekers that are flooding into its Southern fringes.

Efforts by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, to work out a plan to redistribute tens of thousands of new arrivals around the region have so far been met by strong resistance from several governments, including France.

Under EU law, asylum seekers have to be fingerprinted and registered in the first European country of arrival. But in recent years, Italy and Greece have allowed people to move to other EU countries without being registered.

About 2,500 to 3,000 migrants now live in Calais, most in a makeshift camp dubbed the New Jungle—in reference to an old camp dismantled and bulldozed back in 2009—next to a day-care center opened by French authorities in December.

Source : The Wall street journal