‘Social cleansing’ – France continues to clear migrant tent camps from Paris before Olympics

Macron is under pressure to present Paris in the best light possible, instead of its current status as a homeless camp for thousands of illegal migrants

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: John Cody
(Sebastien Nogier/Pool Photo via AP)

The Paris Olympics are fast approaching, and in an effort to sweep away the tent cities that have popped up around the City of Lights, authorities are pushing the homeless from key areas in what critics are describing as a “social cleansing.”

Human rights groups are complaining that the majority of these camps are filled with migrants, but with the entire world focusing its attention on Paris and millions of visitors arriving in the city, French President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to present a rosy picture.

Many migrants, mostly young, who live in French hotels are also facing expulsions in the run-up to the Olympic Games, with a collective of 80 NGOs and human rights groups, called the “Le revers de la medaille” collective, saying it is furious that these hotels will earn more profit with tourists than migrants, according to French news outlet France Bleu.

“Half of the places (for migrants) in the region are granted by hotel establishments, and we think they are going to get these rooms back for the Olympic Games,” said Lila Cherief of Secours Catholique. 

Meanwhile, Paul Alauzy, who works for Médecins du Monde, and also the spokesperson for the collective of NGOs, said: “In 2023, there will be 3,000 places in ‘social hotels’ in Ile de France that have been eliminated. We are sure that this is to welcome 3,000 tourists in these hotels because obviously it earns more from an American tourist than a Sudanese refugee.”

The collective is calling for 20,000 emergency accommodations to be opened in France, including 7,000 in Paris, to handle the expulsions of migrants, from both hotels and tent cities. However, Paris, which is already dealing with a housing crisis, and which will be even tighter on space during the Olympics, is likely to continue pushing even more migrants out over the coming months.

The region of Paris alone handles approximately 120,000 people without homes on any given day, and in France, the number is estimated to exceed well over 300,000.

Camps being systematically cleared

The pro-migrant Utopia 56 association announced that an “informal” camp of around a hundred “unaccompanied” migrant minors was dismantled last week in the center of Paris, with the camp en route to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Unlike many other expulsions, the French-language version of InfoMigrants reports that police offered no accommodation alternatives for the migrants, which activists say is rare but may increase in frequency as the Olympics approach.

The migrants were sheltering along the Seine River near the Pont au Change, in the area known as the “red zone.”

“It is perhaps no coincidence that these camps were dismantled; they were located in what is called the ‘red zone’ of the Olympic Games opening ceremony,” said Nikolai Posner, the spokesperson for Utopia 56. He said that there are an additional 400 migrants residing near the Seine in the same area, who he believes will also be pushed out by the police.

As Remix News has previously reported, in the past, these unaccompanied “minors” are often adults who have incentives to discard their identity papers and lie about their age in order to receive favorable social benefits and avoid deportation.

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