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Migrants waiting to be removed from aid centre in Paris. Thibault Camus via PA Images
refugee crisis

Police move out thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris

The migrants had been living near an aid centre in the capital.

POLICE IN PARIS have moved out nearly 2,800 migrants who had been living rough in the north of the city.

This comes as part of their latest operation to ease strains caused by a human influx to Europe.

The evacuation, which went ahead smoothly, entailed moving out migrants who had been living around an aid centre set up in the Porte de la Chapelle area last November.

The Paris regional authority said 2,771 people, including 161 described as “vulnerable”, were taken mainly to school gymnasiums that have become available during the summer holidays.

Charity groups took part in the operation.

Officials had been expecting to move out 1,600 migrants.

However Francois Ravier, a senior regional official, said:

Experience shows that there are always more people than estimated.

Paris became a gathering point for migrants after the closure last October of the notorious ‘jungle’ near Calais – a makeshift camp near the Channel coast where thousands lived in the hope of climbing aboard trucks or trains to get into Britain.

France Migrants Migrants lined up to be evacuated by bus Thibault Camus Thibault Camus

Past evacuations

Today’s evacuation was the 34th to take place in Paris in the last two years. The previous operation was on 9 May, when more than 1,600 migrants were moved out from the same area.

Aid workers said around 200 more migrants had been coming into the area every week recently, raising security and hygiene concerns and causing tensions with locals.

Europe’s migrant influx began in 2015, centering on Greece, where hundreds of thousands of people, many of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Afghanistan, crossed from Turkey.

The crisis receded in 2016 under an agreement with Turkey to clamp down on illegal border crossings.

However, it revived this year, focusing instead on sea crossings from Libya to Italy, mostly by people from sub-Saharan Africa.

Yesterday, EU interior ministers pledged to back a plan to help Italy, which has accepted around 85,000 people since the start of the year and says it is overwhelmed.

The city of Paris today called for the creation of reception centres along the route typically taken by migrants once they arrive in France, notably in the southern port of Nice and the southeastern city of Lyon.

© AFP 2017

Read: Deaths and abuse of migrants ‘clearly linked’ to EU policies, says Amnesty

More: This I can carry – Irish exhibit shows the meagre possessions refugees hold following a harrowing journey

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