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18 Apr, 2024 10:08

Hundreds kicked out of Paris squat ahead of Olympics (VIDEO)

Charities claim authorities are clearing out homeless people ahead of the Games this summer
Hundreds kicked out of Paris squat ahead of Olympics (VIDEO)

French police have carried out a large-scale eviction at the country’s biggest squat in Paris, just 100 days before the Olympic Games are due to start in the city, local media have reported.  

The squat, in an abandoned bus company headquarters in Vitry-sur-Seine, had been home to up to 450 people, including 20 children and 50 women, according to aid workers. At least ten children reportedly attended local schools.  

Images of the eviction on Wednesday rapidly spread across social media.  

Footage showed officers forcing their way into the camp and examining locked rooms as they oversaw the removal of residents. Makeshift beds and furniture were seen on the floors and in the hallways of the building, along with abandoned personal belongings. Evicted migrants gathered outside with packed suitcases, while others were seen boarding buses.   

Activists have linked the move to the broader effort by Paris authorities to clear out migrants and others sleeping rough in the city before the summer Olympics. They claim the government has launched the campaign to make the French capital “more presentable.”  

“The squat was the biggest in France. It doubled in size in one year because of the Olympics. Last year, authorities cleared out migrants from nearby the Olympic Village, and many displaced people came here,” Paul Alauzy of the NGO Medecins du Monde told the AP.  

Alauzy, who is also a spokesperson for Revers de la Medaille (The Medal’s Other Side), a collective of charities and aid workers, said homeless people and squats have been steadily cleared out for the past year.   

Aid workers have warned that the Olympics are affecting the most vulnerable homeless people in the Paris area as those evicted are not provided with longer-term housing assistance.  

When asked about Wednesday’s evacuation, French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said “it has nothing to do with the Olympics,” according to the AP.   

Earlier, French authorities claimed that the recent relocations were the result of emergency accommodation centers reaching saturation, claiming that the measure is unrelated to the Games.  

France received 167,000 asylum requests in 2023, the second-highest number in the EU. Migrants were mostly from Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East.

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