France opens refugee shelter in Paris
A refugee opens a milk box as he sits next to makeshift tents in the French capital of Paris, October 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Authorities in France have opened a 400-bed shelter for refugees in northern Paris, as part of a plan to organize asylum seekers from a slum-like facility in the port city of Calais.
The camp, which was opened Thursday, is designated for single men in particular and is located in a disused railway yard near the French capital’s train station, Gare du Nord.
It will be taking in 50 to 80 people a day, which is the estimated number of refugees that arrive in Paris from Calais on a daily basis.
“The idea is to create a place where every newly arrived migrant can be welcomed and offered dignified, humane shelter,” said Bruno Morel, the head of a charity foundation that runs the center.
Reports said a separate facility for families and women will open in the southeastern suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine in early 2017.
The Calais refugee camp, pejoratively referred to in France as “the jungle,” was dismantled last month, and the French government had promised to secure places to resettle the camp’s residents around the country.
It was home to some 6,000 to 8,000 refugees, including 1,200 children, mainly from Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea, living in dire conditions.
The camp had become a symbol of Europe’s struggle to respond to its biggest influx of asylum seekers since World War II.
Refugees have been pouring into European countries, including France, fleeing conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East.
More than 317,200 asylum seekers have reached Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year, while over 3,630 people died or went missing in their perilous journeys to the continent, according to the latest figures by the International Organization of Migration.
Many blame major European powers themselves for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in the violence-hit regions, forcing more people out of their homes.