French Police Evict West African Migrants from Paris Tent Camp Ahead of 2024 Olympics

French police evict migrants from makeshift camp near Paris City Hall, raising concerns about 'social cleansing' ahead of 2024 Olympics. Aid groups criticize the evictions as an effort to remove homeless people from the city's streets before the international event.

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Nitish Verma
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French Police Evict West African Migrants from Paris Tent Camp Ahead of 2024 Olympics

French Police Evict West African Migrants from Paris Tent Camp Ahead of 2024 Olympics

French police evicted around 100 West African migrants, mostly teenage boys and young men, from a makeshift tent camp near Paris City Hall early on Tuesday. The operation was part of an alleged 'social cleansing' campaign by authorities to beautify the French capital ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics, according to aid groups.

The police cited security concerns, particularly the camp's proximity to schools and public buildings where security has been increased due to heightened terrorism threats, as the reason for the eviction. Paris officials offered the migrants temporary housing in the town of Angers, 250 km southwest of Paris, for three weeks. However, most of the migrants, including many minors seeking residency, refused to board the bus, fearing they would be abandoned there once the accommodation period expired.

Aid groups have criticized the evictions as an effort to remove homeless people from the city's streets before the international event. "This is the latest in a series of dismantling of migrant camps in France, which aid groups say is a regular occurrence before major events like the Olympics to 'clean up' the streets and 'make room for the beautiful Paris postcard'," said a spokesperson for an aid organization.

Migrant advocates allege that the evictions of camps and squats are intensifying in the lead-up to the Olympics, with people being sent far from the capital instead of being offered shelter in the Paris region where many have ongoing legal proceedings related to their residency requests. They say this is part of a broader effort to clear marginalized people from central Paris districts to make way for the Olympics, creating a 'never-ending cycle' of displacement and resettlement.

Why this matters: The eviction of the migrant camp highlights the challenges faced by homeless and marginalized communities in Paris as the city prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. It raises questions about the priorities and actions of authorities in dealing with social issues while readying the city for a major international event.

The Paris police chief justified the clearance operation, citing the camp's size and location near public buildings. Only a few migrants accepted the offer to be temporarily housed in Angers. Aid groups say the phenomenon of dismantling migrant camps is not limited to Paris but is also seen in other French cities like Lille and Bordeaux that are set to host Olympic events.

Key Takeaways

  • French police evicted ~100 West African migrants from a camp near Paris City Hall.
  • Authorities cited security concerns and Olympics preparation as reasons for the eviction.
  • Most migrants refused temporary housing offer, fearing abandonment after the Olympics.
  • Aid groups criticize evictions as efforts to 'clean up' Paris before the Olympics.
  • Migrant advocates say evictions are intensifying across France to clear people for the Olympics.