A makeshift camp erected outside the office of the French capital’s mayor was removed by police on Friday after more than 300 protesting migrants were provided temporary shelter by the Paris authorities.
Some 250 tents housing 320 migrants mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, including children and pregnant women, were set up outside the iconic Hotel de Ville in Paris on Thursday evening. Together with activists from the charity Utopia 56, the group staged the protest to demand that asylum seekers who come to France are provided a stable roof over their heads.
Later Friday, the migrants were evacuated from the square in the heart of the capital and the tents removed.
Some 270 people, mainly families, were relocated to two gyms in the city, while another 50 young adults were sent to a concert hall requisitioned to host the asylum seekers.
“The solution offered to families remains temporary. We’ll make sure that no one will be put back on the streets,” Nikolai Posner, Utopia 56 activist, told local media. His group, which provides shelter for migrants, said it had simply run out of space for those who arrived in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the Paris authorities do not plan to host the asylum seekers on their property for long, with Deputy Mayor Ian Brossat asking the French government to find some solution for them by the beginning of next week.
“Once again, the municipality takes the responsibility and pushes above its weight. The State must also do the work on its side,” he said.
The French authorities are legally obliged to provide housing to migrants as soon as they submit their application to the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA). However, there’s chronic shortage of shelter for those people, with critics even suggesting that it’s part of a deliberate policy by the French authorities aimed at dissuading migrants from coming to the country.
In March, Utopia 56 erected 400 tents at Place de la Republique in Paris to attract the attention of the public to the ongoing migrant housing crisis.
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