Paris: French authorities on Monday evacuated 1,850 migrants from a tent camp which had sprung up in a Paris park, where conditions had nosedived after one of the wettest Mays on record.
The Paris regional government said the operation was the biggest carried out in the capital where makeshift camps have mushroomed in recent months as France struggles to accomodate asylum seekers.
The migrants were taken by bus to about 60 different reception centres in the Paris region, in what was the 23rd such evacuation of the past year.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told Europe 1 radio there had been 1,300 people counted at the camp on Sunday — mostly Afghans, Sudanese and Eritreans — but that numbers had surged as word spread they would be rehoused.
The camp had already been evacuated a month ago.
“I never thought I would spend my first nights in Paris on the street,” said Ali, a 28-year-old English teacher from Somalia, keen to take a shower, eat and have a good night`s sleep once he arrived at the reception centre.
“Really, it was horrible, people were sick, toilets were overflowing,” he said.
Last week, Hidalgo said she wanted to create a refugee camp in Paris to provide proper accommodation for asylum seekers and ease the pressure on overflowing housing centres.
And French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said France would take in 400 refugees a month from Greece as part of an EU relocation deal it signed last year.
In September, EU states inked a deal to share out 160,000 refugees as Europe deals with an unprecedented migration crisis which saw more than a million arrivals last year.
However, there has been next to no progress, with less than one percent of that figure redistributed so far.
Under the deal, France agreed to take in 30,000 refugees, but so far it has only taken in 500. Even at 400 per month, it would still fall far short of its obligations.
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