Police began evacuating hundreds of migrants living in makeshift camps in Paris on Wednesday, as European politicians continue to tackle the issue of refugees, which has fueled the rise of far-right parties in the continent.
Scores of people were taken away from the “Millenaire” camp next to a canal in the northeast of the city and escorted to temporary accommodation centres. Riot police were also on standby as the evacuation took place.
France has undertaken previous measures to clear out migrant camps in Paris, only for new camps to spring up again.
“I don’t think we could have waited for four months to move these people to a safe place,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters. “I made a proposal to the state to reform a centre in Paris, like the one we had at Porte de La Chapelle, which is the only option possible if we want to avoid the wild street camps.”
The French government has said it wants to be both firm and fair on immigration but it has adopted a a tougher stance lately, with parliament approving a bill that tightens asylum rules.
Europe has been grappling with a migrant crisis since 2015 following wars in Libya and Syria. More than a million people from Africa and the Middle East have tried to reach the continent.