French police clear hundreds from Paris migrant camp

Migrants stands next to their tents during the evacuation of a makeshift camp set up near the La Porte d’Aubervilliers in Paris, France, January 28, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 January 2020

French police clear hundreds from Paris migrant camp

  • Police said 1,436 people — including 93 children and 1,187 single men — had been removed from the camp
  • Dozens of camps have sprung up since the migrant influx to Europe that began in 2015

PARIS: Police moved hundreds of migrants from a makeshift camp in northern Paris early on Tuesday, the latest attempt to discourage asylum seekers from living in the streets of the French capital.

Police said 1,436 people — including 93 children and 1,187 single men — had been removed from the camp, where they had been living in tents and makeshift shelters along the Paris ring road.

Dozens of camps have sprung up since the migrant influx to Europe that began in 2015, and some 20,000 people have been removed from camps in or near Paris in the past year.

Under a biting wind, the migrants climbed on to buses carrying a bare minimum of belongings, leaving behind tents as well as mattresses, bicycles and other items.

“We’ll see where the police are going to take us,” said Fatima, a 38 year-old from Ivory Coast, waiting to board a bus with her three daughters, one still in a pram.

“For now we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re staying hopeful,” she told AFP.

Yssouf, a 29-year-old also from Ivory Coast, told AFP on Tuesday he had been living at the camp since December after he was ordered to leave a housing facility when his asylum request was rejected.

“The cold was starting to get unbearable,” he said. “I’m glad to be able to have shelter, even though I know it’s only for a little while. It’s better than nothing.”

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had promised to clear all migrant camps from the city by the end of last year, in part by opening more shelters for asylum seekers but also by deporting those whose claims are rejected.

Officials have said they were now deploying police to ensure migrants do not return to the razed camps or set up new ones.

“We are not going to resume a never-ending cycle of evacuations followed by new installations,” Paris police chief Didier Lallement told journalists at the scene.

But critics say that unless the government provides long-term lodgings or the prospect of legal residency, many migrants will avoid administrative centers and return to the streets.

Some 300 people had already set up tents just a few hundred meters away from the razed camp.

It was the 60th major operation to clear migrant camps in or near Paris since 2015.

President Emmanuel Macron said last year that France must end its “lax” approach to immigration.


Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

Updated 8 min 10 sec ago

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

WASHINGTON: A heavily armed man has been arrested in Washington at a security checkpoint near the US Capitol, where President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated next week, authorities said.
Wesley Allen Beeler, of Virginia, was taken into custody after police found him with a handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition, shotgun shells and a magazine for the gun, according to a police report obtained by AFP.
He had tried to pass through the checkpoint using fake inaugural credentials, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement source.
Washington is under a high state of alert ahead of Biden’s Wednesday inauguration, after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Five people died in the assault, including a police officer.
Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.
Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.
The National Mall, which is normally packed with people every four years for presidential inaugurations, has been declared off-limits at the request of the Secret Service, which ensures the security of the president.