Paris residents furious that hundreds of migrants are sleeping on the streets of their neighbourhood are threatening to launch a hunger strike unless the authorities remove the squalid pavement camps.
They are demanding the relocation of a centre that processes asylum requests, which they argue is a magnet for migrants. Local groups accuse the migrants of harassing women and starting fights as they jostle for admittance to the office, managed by a charity with state aid.
Several high-profile police operations to clear migrants sleeping in the streets of the 10th arrondissement in northern Paris over the past two years have failed to solve the problem. Migrants reappeared within days or weeks.
Pierre Vuarin, a spokesman for a neighbourhood association, said: “The pavement is sometimes soaked in urine and the streets aren’t cleaned every day. Some people have sold their flats at knockdown prices and others have suffered mental breakdowns.”
The group said dozens of its members would begin a hunger strike from January 1 unless the problem is tackled.
They have written to President Emmanuel Macron, whose office responded that he was “aware of the difficulties of cohabitation” but it was up to the interior ministry to find a solution.
Alexandra Cordebard, the district mayor, said: “We cannot be expected to tolerate the establishment of shanty-towns or slums in Paris.” She said the government had promised the asylum centre would be removed by the end of the year.
Pierre Henry, head of the Terre d’Asile charity that runs the centre, acknowledged that “the situation in the streets is disgraceful”, but added that the police were responsible for maintaining order.
Women have repeatedly complained of harassment by migrants camped in the nearby area of La Chapelle.
Leftist groups accused them of exaggerating the problem.
In June, Marlène Schiappa, the gender equality minister, who wants on-the-spot fines for street harassment, tweeted photographs of herself walking in the area at night unmolested, with a message saying “the laws of the Republic protect women, they apply everywhere at all times.” Source