Only days after 2,771 migrants were removed from street squats in Northern Paris, hundreds of new arrivals have already taken their place, with dozens arriving to set-up camp as street cleaners were still hosing down pavements.
The scene early last Friday, July 7th, as police evacuate migrants living rough outside a reception center in the north of the city. Credit: BFMTV
Porte de la Chapelle, Paris – If it seems like déjà vu, there’s a reason; Friday morning’s operation to clear migrants from the streets of Northern Paris has become routine – it was the 34th such operation here since 2015.
The previous clean-up in May, which saw 1,600 African and Afghan men moved to hotels, sports halls and reception centers across the Paris region, just happened to precede the visit of the Olympic committee several days later.
This time, there is speculation that the tidy-up was organized with the visit of President Donald J. Trump in mind; his cavalcade would likely have entered Paris via the Porte de la Chapelle if arriving from the north as opposed to Paris Orly where Air Force One landed shortly before 9am this morning.
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady, Melania Trump, arriving in Paris this morning. Photo Credit: Pierre Suu, Getty Images.
As President Trump had previously described Paris as no longer Paris, a comment which incensed French media, his hosts will be eager to change his mind with a program showcasing the city – sans third world poverty to spoil the view.
After each clearing operation, which sees arrivals being bused from squalid makeshift encampments to towns and villages across France, migrants continue to arrive, streaming into the capital at an estimated one hundred per day; rejected Afghan asylum seekers arriving directly from Germany, and Africans – largely Sudanese, Eritreans and Somalis – traveling up through Italy, with reports of free passage being offered for migrants on trains leaving the country.
The first port of call for many is ‘la bulle’ (‘the bubble’), a giant inflatable structure at Porte de la Chapelle in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, which opened to fanfare in November 2016.
Boasting 16 immigration agents and 120 salaried staff, the center provides information on entitlements and asylum claims in Arabic, English, and Pashto, along with Afghan, Eritrean and Ethiopian languages. Short term accommodations are available for 400 persons at a time in an adjacent specially converted building. Bathrooms feature lowered wash-basins to allow Muslim migrants to perform their ablutions.
Constantly saturated, however, the showcase reception center soon became synonymous with insalubrious conditions outside its gates, with migrants camping along perimeter fencing, under freeways and in nearby streets, leading to deteriorating sanitary conditions and an unwelcome view of Paris a stone’s throw away from touristic Montmartre, which Melania Trump had requested to visit. The First Lady is instead being taken on a visit to the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral and on a scenic boat tour along the River Seine.
Less than a week after Friday’s clean-up operation, at least 300 migrants are again living rough in the vicinity of ‘la bulle’, with many more sleeping outdoors on mattresses across the city, and untold numbers en route.
Migrants being evacuated by police from the Porte de la Chapelle, Paris on the morning of Friday July 7th. Photo:YANN BOHAC / CITIZENSIDE / AFP.
Prior to the evacuation, tensions were growing between rival ethnic groups, and an outbreak of scabies had broken out among migrants, with volunteers warning that there would be deaths if the situation continued to deteriorate.
President Trump may be given the royal treatment by his hosts this Bastille Day, eager to prove that ‘Paris sera toujours Paris’ but not so far from view the third-worldization of the French capital continues at a frightening speed – and will continue to do so for as long as the country’s borders remain wide open.
Residents near the Porte de la Chapelle migrant camp complain of hygiene and safety concerns in their neighborhood. Photo Credit: DR/Le Parisien