Paris mayor wants to create refugee camp
The mayor of Paris said Tuesday she wants to create a refugee camp in the French capital to replace makeshift camps that are swiftly closed down for health reasons.
City authorities are "assessing different sites" for their suitability to host a camp "as soon as possible", Mayor Anne Hidalgo told a press conference.
The planned camp will be able to receive several hundred people and could open later this year, Hidalgo said.
She said the current situation in Paris was no longer "tenable", pointing to the example of a makeshift camp that has sprung up in the north of the city in recent days and now houses 800 people.
A visibly frustrated Hidalgo said she had alerted the relevant state authorities to the situation in Paris several times but was still waiting for a response.
She said the state had not provided sufficient resources to give refugees "a fitting welcome".
"We are going to take things in hand," the Paris mayor added.
"We have identified several sites that belong to us, particularly in the north of Paris, where we could set up a camp... with the help of charities and, I hope, with the help of the state."
She said the Paris camp would be inspired by the one created at Grande-Synthe in northern France, which was built to take in refugees from the notorious Jungle camp in the northern port city of Calais.
Since the beginning of 2015, 8,000 migrants have been given shelter in Paris, with the help of local associations and the regional authority, the mayor's office said.
Many gravitate towards makeshift camps under railway bridges and elsewhere.
France has not been in the frontline of the vast influx of migrants to Europe in the last 18 months, with many refugees seeing it as a transit country to other destinations in northern Europe.
Many have gathered around the northern coast, especially in Calais, in the hope of crossing the Channel to reach Britain, where they have community ties or see better chances of finding work.
Around 80,000 people applied for asylum in France last year, but that was just 20,000 more than in 2014.
Germany, in comparison, received one million asylum requests.
© 2016 AFP