PARIS (Reuters) - French police evicted thousands of migrants living on sidewalks in an area of northern Paris on Friday and Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the latest action proved the system for handling migrants is “dysfunctional”.
Dozens of police and white police vans moved in at around 5 a.m. local time to clear the area where the regional police said numbers have swollen to almost 2,500. It is the second eviction since July when more than 2,700 migrants were removed.
“These illegal camps present a security and public health risk for both the occupants and local residents,” the Paris police prefect’s office said in a statement as 350 police and other officials conducted the clear-out.
The migrants who came from countries including Eritrea, Sudan and Afghanistan were escorted onto buses to be taken to temporary lodgings such as gymnasium buildings in Paris and areas ringing the capital.
Collomb told RTL radio the ministry and police were studying how to prevent a regrouping of migrants in Paris.
“What we want to do is to ensure that there isn’t a focal point (in Paris), but that we can welcome (the migrants) within the national asylum schemes, possibly on the outskirts of Paris,” he said. “It shows that the Parisian system has some dysfunctions.”
President Emmanuel Macron has asked Collomb to produce a plan to accelerate processing of asylum requests with a view to deciding within six months who will be granted refugee status and who gets sent back.
The camp in Paris has swollen despite the creation of two new centres by Paris City Hall to register and temporarily house migrants arriving in the city.
Local authorities also report a rise in recent weeks in the number of migrants roaming the streets of the northern port city of Calais, where a sprawling illegal camp was razed to the ground last November and its inhabitants dispatched to other parts of France.
Calais, from which migrants hope to reach Britain, has come to symbolise Europe’s difficulty in dealing with a record influx of men, women and children who have fled their native countries.
Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg