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Paris installs boulders under bridge to prevent makeshift migrant camps – activists

Paris installs boulders under bridge to prevent makeshift migrant camps – activists
Paris authorities placed huge boulders under a bridge where asylum-seekers set up a makeshift camp, local activists say, claiming some migrants who are waiting to be resettled have nowhere else to go and have not slept for days.

The makeshift migrant camp was reportedly set up in the Porte de la Chapelle area in the north of the French capital. The camp is in front of La Chapelle refugee center, which still is coping with the mass influx of refugees and apparently cannot admit everyone.

On Sunday, P'tit Dej' à Flandre, an activist group which helps asylum-seekers, released pictures of the boulders under the bridge near Boulevard Ney where the migrants resided. Another activist group, Solidarité migrants Wilson, which provides food to migrants, said that these huge stones were placed on Friday evening.

READ MORE: Police stealing migrants’ blankets in below-freezing Paris – MSF

“These big stones crush little hope that remains for those people who have already suffered so much… We want answers to these shocking methods,” the organization said.

The group said that the migrants were sleeping under the bridge and now they have nowhere to hide from the snow.

READ MORE: Paris police start evicting 3,000+ refugees from Stalingrad camp (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

L’Express newspaper received a comment from the mayor’s office, which confirmed that it was its decision to place the stones “to avoid street camping.”

A volunteer from Solidarité migrants Wilson told the paper that she talked to migrants who lived under the bridge in La Chapelle.

“They are exhausted, they [are] cold, some have not slept since Friday, we are extremely indignant,” she said, adding that another makeshift center was set up in the area on Sunday. Others took refuge in the Porte de la Chapelle metro station, she added.
Meanwhile, Mayor Anne Hidalgo praised La Chapelle refugee center in a tweet on Tuesday. According to France Bleu newspaper, the center, which opened three months ago, accommodates 5,000 migrants.

The number of refugees arriving in France, however, appears to be much more than the centers are able to host. According to Asylum Information Database, which collects data on the influx of migrants, over 85,000 people applied for asylum in France in 2016.

Many asylum-seekers from the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan travel to France in hopes of crossing the English Channel to the UK, often having had their applications rejected elsewhere, or in expectation of better prospects in Britain than in the rest of the EU.