Police have moved more than 2,000 refugees and migrants off the streets of Paris, where they had been sleeping rough for weeks in squalid and unsanitary conditions.
Riot officers watched the refugees as they were bussed to temporary shelters in school gymnasiums on Friday morning.
Hundreds of refugees and migrants had arrived in the Porte de la Chapelle area of northern Paris, sleeping under road bridges and on the side of the road with almost no access to water, sanitation, and food, outside Paris’s new aid center for asylum seekers that was opened in November.
The operation to move them began at dawn and took place calmly. Groups of men and women from countries including Afghanistan and Eritrea – some only with small rucksacks or plastic bags of belongings – were sent on to buses and driven out of Paris.
Aid workers warned that France needed to establish an effective long-term strategy for processing and housing asylum seekers in decent conditions rather than constantly taking emergency action at the last minute.
Many of those sleeping roughs had queued each day for access to the aid center only to find it was full. Hundreds had bedded down on the pavement outside the gates, alongside traffic-choked roads. In recent weeks, more than 1,000 people had been sleeping here, with aid associations saying 200 more arrived each week.
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