French police cleared two huge migrant tent camps in northern Paris on Thursday and authorities vowed to clear other camps, a day after the government announced tighter immigration policies.
Buses took away more than 1,600 people in the Porte de la Chapelle and Seine-Saint-Denis area, where illegal refugees lived in tents under and around the flyovers of the busy Paris Peripherique ring road and the ramps to the A1 highway.
“I will no longer tolerate these installations by the roadside here or anywhere else on public spaces in Paris,” Paris police prefect Didier Lallement told reporters at the scene.
The migrants, mostly men from sub-Saharan Africa and some from the Middle East were taken to gyms and other public venues in and around Paris, while excavators demolished makeshift shacks and picked up plastic chairs, mattresses and rubbish.
Lallement said police would maintain a permanent presence in the area in coming weeks to prevent migrants from returning.
Since the closure of a huge migrant camp in Calais in 2016, many refugees have moved to Paris, which has repeatedly broken up camps only to see them pop up again in different areas a few months later.
“Prefects have told me time and again the camps would not come back, but each time they have reappeared,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters.
Deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said that apart from the Porte de la Chapelle camp there were another 1,600 migrants in a camp at nearby Porte d’Aubervilliers and more camps at Porte de la Villete and in Seine-Saint Denis, all in northern Paris.
According to a September Ipsos Institute poll, 60 percent of French people see illegal immigration as a threat to France.
NTD staff contributed to this report.