The camp at Port de la Villette, along the banks of the Saint Denis Canal was cleared on February 4 | Photo: Wasi Mohsin / InfoMigrants
The camp at Port de la Villette, along the banks of the Saint Denis Canal was cleared on February 4 | Photo: Wasi Mohsin / InfoMigrants

A camp in the north of Paris was cleared by French police on Tuesday morning. Police said it was the "last one" to be cleared in the city. The more than 420 residents of the camp were taken to halls and welcome centers around the capital.

French police have said this was the last remaining camp to be cleared in the capital. On Tuesday, February 4 the authorities evacuated people from the tents which had sprung up along the sides of the Saint-Denis Canal in the north of Paris.

In total 427 people resident in the camp, including four women, were taken to shelters and welcome centers around the capital, reported the news agency AFP, citing a statement from the authorities responsible for clearing the camp, the Prefecture for the Ile-de-France region. The Prefecture tweeted:

The statement said that the clearance had taken place "without incident and that inhabitants had been bussed to various centers around the region." Each person at the camp will be given a medical, social and administrative consultation," promised the authorities.

Last camp to be dismantled

The dismantling of the Porte de la Villette camp comes a week after another nearby camp at Porte d’Aubervilliers was cleared. Some 1,400 people were resident in that camp on the edge of Paris.

"These camps will cease to exist, that is the idea," said a spokesperson for the Prefecture in the Ile-de-France region to AFP. "The police will be watching the site to prevent the camp springing up again, just like they have done at Porte d’Aubervilliers and Porte de la Chapelle."

According to the Prefecture’s statement, the authorities had no choice but to evacuate the camp at Porte de la Villette because the situation was becoming "explosive" for the migrants who lived there and in the surrounding area. It was in everyone’s interests that the camp was cleared, said a police spokesperson. Those in the camp were living in "a degrading situation with absolutely no hygiene. The site was full of rubbish, overrun by rats and was emitting an awful stink from urine and excrement."

The French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner promised in November 2019 to clear all the migrant camps across northeast Paris before the end of the year.

Stopping the cycle of clearances and reformation

Prior to that camps had been cleared but had sprung up again within just a few days, in or near the sites that had been cleared. Since November, the authorities have put in place security patrols to try to prevent any of the camps from re-forming. The first camp to be cleared was Porte de la Chapelle on November 7. "We are not going to go back into that cycle of clearances and reformations," said the chief of Police Didier Lallement last week.

The camp at Porte de la Villette was one of the smallest of the camps in the Paris suburbs. Utopia 56, a pro-migrant association, said the clearances only served to promote vagrancy, pointing out that another camp with about 40 tents had already sprung up in the last few days a little further down the Saint-Denis canal. "They start these clearances knowing full well that half of the people in the camp don’t have the right to any accommodation because they come under the Dublin Regulation and so they just escape," said Florent Boyer from Utopia 56.

On February 4, the Prefect from the Ile-de-France Region twitter feed posted a video showing the inauguration of a site which will provide accommodation built for families who had been living in some of these camps. 

This article was based on a translation, with additions and some changes, from the original French article. It was translated by Emma Wallis. Reporting was from AFP and dpa. 


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