FRENCH police stormed the make-shift refugees camps in northern Paris, tearing down tents and ‘escorting’ families and individuals on to coaches.
French police forcibly evicted about 1,600 refugees from two camps near the Porte de la Chapelle in the small hours of Thursday morning in one of the biggest ‘clearance operations’ in years.
Some 600 police officers ‘escorted the migrants to coaches’ to take them to ‘reception centres’ in the Paris area.
The move comes a day after the government unveiled a series of extreme right-wing measures to ‘curb immigration’.
Many of the refugees, who included families with children, are from Afghanistan or sub-Saharan Africa.
The two makeshift camps, made up of tarpaulin shelters and tents, were located under the flyovers of the Boulevard Périphérique, the ring road that runs around the capital.
They are among a number of camps to emerge around the city in the last few years.
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said 16,000 places would be made available in three new ‘migrant centres’, in an effort to prevent refugees from setting up new settlements.
These ‘migrant centres’ will be closed camps.
He also said each individual case would be looked at, with ‘more support for asylum seekers whose cases were approved and deportation for those denied permission to stay.’
France said it would impose quotas on the number of foreign workers from outside the EU as part of measures aimed at ‘addressing concerns about immigration, asylum and integration.’
The move was a way to ‘take back control of our migration policy,’ Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.
Philippe then outrageously announced suspending health care for asylum seekers and ‘illegal immigrants’ for the first three months in the country.
The government says it wants to stamp out ‘health tourism.’
The policy has drawn in huge criticism from various human rights groups, who have accused the government of playing the ‘electoral game’ with refugee lives and triggering a migrant crisis.
Cécile Coudriou, president of Amnesty International France said: ‘These measures foster a climate of anxiety and hostility to the fore.
‘Restricting the rights of migrants and refugees is extremely dangerous. In particular, limiting access to care for asylum seekers and irregular migrants presents a public health risk.
‘By overlooking a shared diagnosis and a real dialogue with civil society, the government makes migrants and refugees scapegoats for an electoral game.
‘Amnesty International calls on the government to finally choose a policy based on the respect for the rights of foreigners and make them welcome in our society.’
Doctors Across Frontiers said: ‘Young foreign nationals continue to arrive unaccompanied in France and for some, recognition of their minority status can be an arduous process.
‘Médecins Sans Frontières has released a report, Unaccompanied minors: symbols of a policy of mistreatment, based on our experience with vulnerable adolescents at our day centre in Paris. While the full report is available for download in French, the executive summary has been translated into English.
‘More and more young foreign nationals continue to arrive unaccompanied in France. The majority are from Mali, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire or Afghanistan. In 2017, the Ministry of Justice’s Unaccompanied Minors Department put their number at 14,908, up from 8,054 the previous year.
‘For some adolescents, obtaining recognition of their minority status can be a long and gruelling process. As minors with no family in France, they have to turn to France’s départements to be placed in the care of Child Protection services.’
Meanwhile, unions have called for strike action in France in December in an increasingly bitter confrontation over reforms to the French pension system.
The strike action was originally called for December 5th by workers on the Paris public transport system (RATP), but in recent weeks more and more unions across France plan to join the walk-out, with some predicting that France will be ‘paralysed until Christmas’ by the industrial action.
The December 5th date was first mentioned during a one-day strike of RATP workers – who operate Paris’ Metro, bus, tram and certain RER services – after September 13th, when coordinated action from the five unions who represent the transport workers brought the city’s public transport to a virtual standstill.
The following week the unions involved – CFE-CGC, CGT, FO, Solidaires, Sud et l’Unsa – issued a call for a grève illimité (unlimited strike action) from December 5th in protest against Macron’s planned pension reforms.
Since then unions who represent workers on the SNCF train operator have also called on workers to strike, so rail services across France will be affected.
Several other unions representing transport workers including hauliers have also announced that they intend to join the action, potentially broadening the strikes to hit road transport and other sectors across France.
The CGT, Force ouvrière, and FSU et Solidaires unions have announced that they would be interested in joining at least a one-day action on December 5th, and possibly rolling strikes, but will make a decision at a later date.
And the ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters have also indicated that they will get involved and declare a day of general protest on December 5th.
- Two French police officers will stand trial for alleged violence against ‘Yellow Vest’ demonstrators taking part in anti-government rallies in Paris in recent months, a senior prosecutor has announced.
Participants in the year-old protest movement have long accused authorities of using heavy-handed tactics that have left dozens of people seriously injured.
In particular the use of large rubber bullets from so-called ‘defensive ball launchers’, as well as sting-ball grenades, have been particularly controversial.
‘Yellow Vest’ activists say 23 protesters lost the use of an eye, five lost a hand, and one a testicle, while dozens sustained other injuries.
The two officers were charged over incidents at this year’s May Day protest in Paris, a traditional day of union rallies that was joined by Yellow Vest activists.
One officer will stand trial for allegedly slapping a protester in the face, while the other is accused of throwing a paving stone at demonstrators in Paris – both scenes were captured on video.
Eighteen other cases registered in the capital have been handed to an investigating magistrate – whose task it is to probe the most serious crimes – to decide whether there was enough evidence to press charges, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said in a statement on Thursday.
In May, as participation in the weekly Saturday protests since November 17th last year was fading, the interior ministry said 2,448 demonstrators had been hurt in the rallies nationwide.