More than 2,000 people were evacuated Wednesday from the large migrant camp located on the edge of the Saint-Denis Canal in Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis), at the end of an operation which is part of the government’s desire to prevent any makeshift camp installation in Paris and its inner suburbs.
In total, “2,113 people were taken care of and were offered temporary shelter in Ile-de-France,” said the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis Georges-François Leclerc, in a press release. These people “will benefit from a social, health and administrative diagnosis (..). Families and vulnerable people will be accommodated in appropriate devices,” the statement continued.
“This operation is the logical continuation of all those that we have already carried out for several months”, explained on the spot the prefect of police of Paris Didier Lallement.
“I wanted to evacuate the camps which were on the outskirts of Paris and to ensure that the entire Paris police sector and the three neighboring departments (the migrants) do not gather in camps,” he said. he adds.
The prefect also invoked the health risk linked to the Covid-19 epidemic to justify the evacuation which began shortly after 6:00 a.m. and ended at 11:00 a.m.
At the edge of the Saint-Denis canal, north-east of the capital, many people waited long hours before being picked up by agents from the prefecture and boarding buses. Confusion reigned early in the morning, causing crowd movements and forcing the police to filter exits from the camp.
“People are exhausted, for some it is the tenth evacuation, they know that they will end up in gymnasiums and half will end up in the street tonight,” regrets Silvana Gaeta of the Solidarité Migrants Wilson collective.
“They push migrants out of Paris and especially out of sight of people, well hidden, so people think that everything is going well and that the migrants are well accommodated and well taken care of. Which is false”, affirms the volunteer, who distributed meals in this place mainly made up of single men, from the Horn of Africa or Afghanistan.
– “Feeling of déjà vu” –
For Alalisad, the evacuation “is incomprehensible”. The 32-year-old Somali is on his fifth in five years in France.
“I don’t understand, they come to pick us up, put us in hotels for three months and then we come back to the streets. I don’t understand why the French government is wasting so much money by putting us in hotels instead of give us long-term accommodation “, asks Alalisad, with a backpack for only luggage.
Migrant aid associations saw this evacuation as “a feeling of déjà vu. There is wear and tear, despair, this situation has lasted almost five years. We have already seen this film. The State. is incapable of welcoming with dignity “, denounces Louis Barda, general coordinator of Médecins du monde in Paris.
In the makeshift camp, hundreds of tents stretched out on either side of the canal that delimits Paris from Seine-Saint-Denis for only two water points.
“The barrier gestures to fight against the coronavirus epidemic, in particular physical distancing, are impossible to enforce in the camps, and the precarious populations are those who are most exposed to the Covid”, warned Mr. Barda who is convinced that the camp will be reconstituted “in a few days”.
The new mayor of Aubervilliers Karine Franclet (UDI) who had written to the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis to demand the evacuation of the camp is delighted with its dismantling while conceding that “the solution is not sustainable. C ‘is a problem that must be resolved at the national level but there was a health emergency that had to be addressed, “she said.
The site also presents “a proven risk for the safety of people and two drownings have already been observed”, indicates the prefectural decree plastered on nearby electricity poles.
After having hesitated for a long time, Ismaël Fatah decided to leave his tent by the canal. “This is the fourth time that I am in a camp, life is difficult in France, I did not expect this welcome. My country is at war, I have no choice to be there”, explains this 29-year-old father from Sudan whose son was born in France.