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Paris police evict hundreds of migrants ahead of Olympics

April 17, 2024

The move to empty a migrant camp is the latest effort to get migrants out of public view before the global spotlight is trained upon Paris this summer. Rights groups fear the evicted will be left even more vulnerable.

Police in riot gear gather outside a former bus company headquarters south of Paris where some 450 migrants had been squatting
Paris has been aggressively 'cleaning' its streets ahead of this summer's OlympicsImage: Luc Auffret/Anadolu/picture alliance

Police in the French capital, Paris, on Wednesday cleared a major migrant squat in the southern suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine with just 100 days to go before the start of the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The makeshift camp at the site of an abandoned bus company office had been home to roughly 450 migrants, mainly young men but including some mothers with small children as well. 

Rights groups said most migrants there had documents and were awaiting social housing allotments.

A crowd of migrants speak with authorities after being evicted from a site where they had been squatting
Rights groups are concerned that those ejected may end up on the streets without even the poor weather protection offered by the squatImage: Luc Auffret/Anadolu/picture alliance

Concerned aid organizations expressed fear that those now being ejected in an effort to "clean up" the city before the Olympics take place — from July 26 to August 11 — would not be able to find long-term housing assistance after being thrown out.

"The squat was the biggest in France. It doubled in size in one year because of the Olympics. Last year, authorities cleared out migrants from nearby the Olympic Village, and many displaced people came here," said Paul Alauzy of the humanitarian organization Medecins du Monde.

Individuals seen next to and boarding a large travel bus
Several buses were on site to bring migrants to other citiesImage: Luc Auffret/Anadolu/picture alliance

Authorities said the eviction operation will continue for several days. On Wednesday, some 300 people were forcibly removed from the site — 150 had left the night before. Many of those evicted were put onto buses to be brought to other cities around France.

Some groups also raised concerns that the move would negatively impact the well-being of school-aged children who are uprooted from the squat.

France races to bolster security ahead of Olympics

js/sms (AFP, AP)