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French police clear migrant camp in Paris

French police officers have cleared hundreds of African migrants from a camp below elevated metro tracks in northern Paris. Health Minister Marisol Touraine stated sanitary reasons for the evacuation.

Law enforcement officers began clearing the migrant camp in Paris on Tuesday morning. About 350 people, most of them from Sudan, but also from Eritrea, Somalia and Egypt, were living in the makeshift camp below the elevated metro tracks between the stations La Chapelle and Barbes-Rochechouart in the north of the French capital (photo).

Authorities put up signs over the weekend ordering them to leave within 48 hours. On early Tuesday morning, police surrounded the camp, which initially sprang up in the summer of 2014.

France's minister of social affairs and health, Marisol Touraine, stated that the operation was necessary for sanitary reasons. "Such camps are places that pose a great risk in terms of epidemics and sanitary problems, first and foremost for those living there," she told radio station France Info, adding that the migrants must be accommodated in shelters with better conditions.

More than half of the migrants in the camp want to leave France

Buses are to take the migrants to various shelters across the Paris area. However, less than half of the migrants from the makeshift camp wish to stay in France.

According to a survey conducted at the migrant camp last week by city authorities and refugee associations, more than half of the people in the camp intended to continue their journey to other destinations, mostly to Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.

More than 40,000 migrants from Africa and the Middle East arrived on Italian shores this year, with a similar number headed for Greece and other southern EU members. An estimated 1,700 people have died during the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea that is often undertaken in overcrowded boats.

das/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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