Nigerian migrants, others stranded in France as police shut camps
French police removed around 500 migrants – mostly Afghans but some Africans – from a makeshift tent encampment in central Paris at dawn Monday. Nigerian migrants were among the affected and they are awaiting further directives from the French police on their fate.
In the operation near Canal Saint Martin, buses transported the migrants to lodgings around the Paris region where they can pursue asylum requests, reports The Associated Press.
Some of the migrants were hopeful the move will help them get certainty about their future.
James Okafor, who said he fled his home country of Nigeria after being attacked, said he “will be very happy to leave the camp” because it will help him meet officials who will decide if he can stay in France.
Others, like an Afghan who gave his name only as Desajan, was apprehensive. “All people in here don’t know other languages – French, English – they don’t know what to do,” he said.
A smaller camp at Porte de Poissonniere was also cleared out Monday morning.
Deputy Paris Mayor For Emergency Housing Ian Brossat said “the large majority” from the Paris camps “will see their asylum rights recognized in one of the European countries.”
Brossat said that an incident last month in which two migrants drowned nearby, and the proliferation of bloody fights between rival camp dwellers, have increased pressure on the French Interior Ministry to close the camps and provide lodging for the migrants.
“There have been abominable conditions in these camps and the government has finally understood that there is no other solution than sheltering them,” he said.
Paris police have already cleared out some 28,000 migrants from Paris camps in the past three years, but the arrivals haven’t slowed.
France’s quandary is shared by other European nations seeking to manage the stream of new arrivals, which has ebbed since the mass Syrian refugee crisis a few years ago but remains a steady challenge.