Security forces moved in on the biggest migrant camp in the French capital today where some 1,700 people lived in makeshift tents alongside a canal.
The migrants would be housed temporarily at more than 20 sites across the Paris region while the authorities checked their identities, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said in a statement. CRS riot police were deployed at dawn, some arriving by boat, as the migrants emerged from their tents and waited patiently to be bussed away from the Port de la Villette camp in the northeast of Paris.
“We don’t really know where we are going,” said a Libyan who reached Paris seven months ago and gave his name as Issam. “It was hard here,” he added, holding on to his one piece of baggage.
The “Millenaire” or Millennium camp was home mainly to Sudanese, Somali and Eritrean migrants. Two similar camp sites in the capital along the Canal St Martin, which houses 800 mostly Afghan migrants, and the Porte de la Chapelle, home to 300-400 people, would also be quickly evacuated, said regional prefect Michel Cadot.
“The other camps will be evacuated as soon as possible next week,” Cadot told reporters.
The authorities said the dawn operation today was the 35th such evacuation in Paris in the last three years as thousands of migrants have arrived seeking a better life.