Paris Agrees To Open Two Refugee Camps This Year, Staying True To Commitments

The mayor of Paris has confirmed that the city is committed to assisting migrants and refugees by announcing that two new camps for those seeking refuge will be open before year’s end. One will be for single men, which will be located in the 18th arrondissement, and another for single women and families, located outside of the city.

The building of these camps marks the first to be established in a densely populated urban area. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, relayed this information at a news conference on Tuesday. The center for men is set to provide meals, clothing, and housing for a few days prior to the refugees moving to long-term accommodations. Mid-October is the expected opening date for the camp. There will be 400 beds with an additional 200 coming in months following. The camp will be run by French immigration workers, along with the assistance provided by the Emmaus Solidarité charity.

The second camp will follow a similar model and will provide shelter for 350 individuals. It is expected to open before the end of the year.

Although men-only camps have existed in the past, they are quite rare. The reason the city has opted for this strategy is likely a means to respond to the reports of rape and abuse that have occurred in other camps. Paris has offered ongoing support to refugees and migrants since 2015 by welcoming 15, 000 seeking refuge. However, there have been many issues due to unofficial camps springing up in public areas of the heavily populated city, such as under the metro tracks. Hidalgo notes the danger in this.

“They are unhealthy and dangerous, and the migrants are living under shameful conditions. This has also become a source of disturbance for residents in the neighborhood.”

The announcement about the new official camps comes after news that vandals set fire to an empty refugee welcome center in Essonne, France on Monday.

The Huffington Post relays words of Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse, who noted that there should be a safe and sanitary space for all.

“Welcoming and offering shelter to those in danger represents an ‘unconditional duty for a large state bound by law. No one should have to deal with unsanitary camps.'”

Hidalgo noted that the intention was to have the first camp opened by June, but things moved slower than expected. Due to a government contribution of $15 million, the new date for opening is a certain one.

The Huff Post shares the statistics in regard to refugees and the conditions that they are facing.

“There are about 7,000 people currently seeking shelter across France, according to government figures. French officials have set up more than 200 facilities to welcome and house refugees, but they are often inadequate in size. French cities like Calais and Grande-Synthe, near the entrance to the English Channel, have been buckling under the pressure of thousands of people waiting to cross into the United Kingdom. Without any federal assistance, volunteers and aid organizations have mostly been left to their own devices to provide food and shelter to people living in mud and among rats.”

The need to open more government-run camps is critical as French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has called for the closure of the Calais (Jungle) camp. The conditions in the camp were horrific and reported to be the worst that aid workers had seen in their time assisting refugees. The refugees lived in ankle-deep mud and sludge while enduring frigid temperatures on the banks of the channel.

Aid worker Vicki Hawkins for Doctors Without Borders said the conditions were the worst she has seen in 20 years, and she can’t imagine what it is like for the refugees in the cold temperatures at night.

[Photo by Kutluhan Cucel/Getty Images]

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