French police clear hundreds from Paris migrant camp

French police clear hundreds from Paris migrant camp
Migrants stands next to their tents during the evacuation of a makeshift camp set up near the La Porte d’Aubervilliers in Paris, France, January 28, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 January 2020

French police clear hundreds from Paris migrant camp

French police clear hundreds from Paris migrant camp
  • Police said 1,436 people — including 93 children and 1,187 single men — had been removed from the camp
  • Dozens of camps have sprung up since the migrant influx to Europe that began in 2015

PARIS: Police moved hundreds of migrants from a makeshift camp in northern Paris early on Tuesday, the latest attempt to discourage asylum seekers from living in the streets of the French capital.

Police said 1,436 people — including 93 children and 1,187 single men — had been removed from the camp, where they had been living in tents and makeshift shelters along the Paris ring road.

Dozens of camps have sprung up since the migrant influx to Europe that began in 2015, and some 20,000 people have been removed from camps in or near Paris in the past year.

Under a biting wind, the migrants climbed on to buses carrying a bare minimum of belongings, leaving behind tents as well as mattresses, bicycles and other items.

“We’ll see where the police are going to take us,” said Fatima, a 38 year-old from Ivory Coast, waiting to board a bus with her three daughters, one still in a pram.

“For now we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re staying hopeful,” she told AFP.

Yssouf, a 29-year-old also from Ivory Coast, told AFP on Tuesday he had been living at the camp since December after he was ordered to leave a housing facility when his asylum request was rejected.

“The cold was starting to get unbearable,” he said. “I’m glad to be able to have shelter, even though I know it’s only for a little while. It’s better than nothing.”

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had promised to clear all migrant camps from the city by the end of last year, in part by opening more shelters for asylum seekers but also by deporting those whose claims are rejected.

Officials have said they were now deploying police to ensure migrants do not return to the razed camps or set up new ones.

“We are not going to resume a never-ending cycle of evacuations followed by new installations,” Paris police chief Didier Lallement told journalists at the scene.

But critics say that unless the government provides long-term lodgings or the prospect of legal residency, many migrants will avoid administrative centers and return to the streets.

Some 300 people had already set up tents just a few hundred meters away from the razed camp.

It was the 60th major operation to clear migrant camps in or near Paris since 2015.

President Emmanuel Macron said last year that France must end its “lax” approach to immigration.


British Asian celebrities produce video to tackle coronavirus myths

 British-Asian celebrities have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine. (AFP/Screenshots/File Photos)
British-Asian celebrities have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine. (AFP/Screenshots/File Photos)
Updated 10 min 39 sec ago

British Asian celebrities produce video to tackle coronavirus myths

 British-Asian celebrities have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine. (AFP/Screenshots/File Photos)
  • Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and former Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi are also included in the video

LONDON: British-Asian celebrities including cricketer Moeen Ali and comedians Romesh Ranganathan and Meera Syal have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine.

The video was organized by “Citizen Khan” creator Adil Ray, who said that he wanted to tackle falsehoods surrounding vaccinations for those from ethnic minority communities.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and former Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi are also included in the video.

Conspiracy theories and myths about coronavirus vaccines have caused concerns about uptake, particularly in the South Asian community.

“We all just feel we needed to do something,” Ray told the BBC.

He appears in the five-minute video with celebrities like former “Coronation Street” actress Shobna Gulati, who used her space in the clip to say: “We will find our way through this. And we will be united once again with our friends and our families. All we have to do is take the vaccination.”

Comedians Sanjeev Bhaskar, Asim Chaudhry and Ranganathan were on hand to debunk common coronavirus myths.

Ranganathan joked: “There’s no chip or tracker in the vaccine to keep watching where you go. Your mobile phone actually does a much better job of that.”

A recent poll commissioned by the Royal Society of Public Health showed that just 57 percent of black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME) would be happy to receive a vaccine, compared with 79 percent of white Britons.

Dr. Harpreet Sood, an NHS doctor heading up an anti-discrimination effort, said fake news and myths were likely behind the worrying numbers for the BAME community.

The UK government has recently started to tackle the problem directly, with UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick arguing that faith leaders were crucial to vaccine uptake. His announcement came as he opened the UK’s first vaccination center in a mosque.

Jonathon Kitson, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, told Arab News: “Mass vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic, and it is great to see people from all backgrounds working to dispel myths, fake news and conspiracy theories like this.”

He added: “The faster the rollout can take place, the sooner we can get back to normal.”

Sam Bowman, co-founder of a new myth-dispelling website called “Anti-Virus: The COVID-19 FAQ,” told Arab News: “It is absolutely vital that everyone realizes that the vaccine is a safe, effective ticket back to normal life. It will mean that people of all ages are safe to see each other again, and go back out to work and their old lives.”

He added: “It’s great to see this video correct the misinformation being promoted — anyone pushing an unscientific anti-vaccine lie needs to be publicly contradicted and exposed as the shysters they are.”