Paris evacuates 1,500 migrants as arrivals surge

AP , Friday 7 Jul 2017

Paris authorities are evacuating some 1,500 migrants from makeshift street camps as Europe contends with an upsurge in new arrivals particularly from Libya.

Police say the migrants camped in the La Chapelle neighborhood on Paris' northern edge are being taken Friday to temporary shelters in the region where they will be given medical checkups and guidance. City Hall says it is the 34th such operation in the past two years.

Under a heavy summer heat, groups of primarily African men and a few families lined up to board buses with a mixture of relief and apprehension. "We Need Dignity" read a handwritten sign next to a mattress stretched across cobblestones and surrounded by litter.

Tents, sleeping bags and rudimentary cardboard structures housing migrants have sprung up on sidewalks and boulevards in the area. City authorities estimate that dozens of people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East pour in daily to the French capital.

Many continue on to the port of Calais to try to cross to Britain, but many stay in Paris in hopes of finding unofficial work or to seek asylum.

In a statement, Paris police said such unauthorized camps "present serious risks for the security and health of their occupants as well as neighborhood residents."

About 350 police and 100 other officials are involved in Friday's operation. The migrants will be given "proposals for orientation" to other sites scattered around France where they can try to seek legal paths to residency, police said. Some may eventually be deported.

Arrivals have grown this summer around Europe, notably as more people are taking the risky sea journey from Libya. Top EU officials are meeting Friday in Estonia to try to find solutions.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pressing the national government for a law enshrining more robust measures to accommodate the migrant flow and provide better humanitarian conditions.

President Emmanuel Macron's government is expected to announce a set of measures to respond to the migrant crisis next week.

A center opened last year in northern Paris to help asylum-seekers has provided temporary shelter for 12,000 people but is not large enough to care for everyone.

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