Operation underway to dismantle sprawling migrant camp in Paris

Afghan migrants look on during the evacuation by police of a makeshift camp in Paris on Nov 4, 2016.
Afghan migrants look on during the evacuation by police of a makeshift camp in Paris on Nov 4, 2016.PHOTO: AFP
Migrant tents are seen on the Avenue de Flandre during an evacuation of a makeshift camp in Paris on Nov 4, 2016, one of several camps sprouting up around the French capital.
Migrant tents are seen on the Avenue de Flandre during an evacuation of a makeshift camp in Paris on Nov 4, 2016, one of several camps sprouting up around the French capital.PHOTO: AFP
A migrant looks at the bus she's about to climb into next to volunteers of the association La Vie Active as she leaves the Jules Ferry reception centre, next to the recently demolished "Jungle" migrant camp after a massive operation to clear the sett
A migrant looks at the bus she's about to climb into next to volunteers of the association La Vie Active as she leaves the Jules Ferry reception centre, next to the recently demolished "Jungle" migrant camp after a massive operation to clear the settlement, on Nov 3, 2016, in Calais.PHOTO: AFP
Migrants wait before entering buses as part of their transfer by French authorities to reception centres across the country during the dismantlement of makeshift camps in a street near Stalingrad metro station in Paris on Nov 4, 2016.
Migrants wait before entering buses as part of their transfer by French authorities to reception centres across the country during the dismantlement of makeshift camps in a street near Stalingrad metro station in Paris on Nov 4, 2016.PHOTO: AFP
Migrants wait to board a bus during an evacuation by police of a makeshift camp in Paris on Nov 4, 2016, one of several camps sprouting up around the French capital.
Migrants wait to board a bus during an evacuation by police of a makeshift camp in Paris on Nov 4, 2016, one of several camps sprouting up around the French capital.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Paris authorities began an operation early on Friday (Nov 4) to clear more than 3,000 migrants from a camp in the north-east of the French capital.

The operation to clear the sprawling tent encampment, near the Canal Saint-Martin under an overhead metro bridge in the Stalingrad district, was proceeding peacefully, an Agence France-Presse journalist at the scene said.

Officials gathered several hundred male migrants shortly before 6am (1pm Singapore time) behind a police line in a part of the camp housing Afghans. Buses were due to take them during the morning to accommodation centres around the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France.

The arrival of the first bus, before dawn, was greeted with cheers.

"I don't know where we are going," said Khalid, 28. "The important thing for me is to have my papers. I have been here in a tent for a month, it's good to leave."

 

The operation comes after a major operation last week to clear the notorious "Jungle" migrant camp at the northern French port of Calais, which has for years served as a jumping-off point for migrants attempting to stow away on trucks and trains bound across the Channel for Britain.

Some 6,000 people, mostly Afghans, Sudanese and Eritreans, had been living in the Jungle in squalid conditions as Europe struggles with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

The Paris encampment has also been cleared twice in recent months, in July and September.

But the tents have been spreading across the pavements again in recent weeks, with some 3,000 people sleeping there at present, according to sources close to the operation.