Friday, March 23, 2018
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Paris mayor announces plan to create refugee camp

Anne Hidalgo unveils plan to build shelter for refugees to replace makeshift camps shut down for health reasons.

The mayor of Paris has announced plans to open a refugee camp in the French capital, criticising the dire living conditions for people who have fled to Europe.

Anne Hidalgo said on Tuesday that she will build a reception centre and shelter for refugees to replace makeshift camps that are habitually closed down for health reasons.

"We cannot accept any longer the humanitarian situation, the sanitary situation that migrants have to put up with," Hidalgo told reporters.

Since the beginning of 2015, 8,000 migrants have been given shelter in Paris, with the help of local associations and the regional authority, the mayor's office said.

Hidalgo said she had alerted the relevant state authorities to the situation in Paris several times but was still waiting for a response.

She said the state had not provided sufficient resources to give refugees "a fitting welcome".

"We are going to take things in hand," the Paris mayor said, adding that city services were looking for a site in the north of the city and that the camp, the first in the Paris area, could be built within two months.

Hidalgo cited as a model a migrant camp made up of modular cabins housing about 2,500 people in Grand-Synthe on the northern French coast. Opened in March, that camp is run by the charity Doctors Without Borders.

Hidalgo said in her above tweet that the centres will be modular and quickly installed.

Police have cleared previous encampments around the nearby Stalingrad metro station and La Chapelle, where Hidalgo said approximately 1,600 people had gathered. Many people are taken to shelters, but the encampments frequently reappear within weeks.

In February, demolition teams backed by French police moved in to destroy the southern part of the "Jungle" refugee camp in Calais despite protests by aid groups working in the area.

The camp was home to between 800 refugees, according to local officials, and 3,000, according to activists working there.

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