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  • French police monitor migrants.

    French police monitor migrants. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 January 2017

Hundreds of migrants sleep outside of Paris's only reception center after hundreds of camps have been forecefully closed by authorities.

Police in Paris have been engaging in “systematic ... violence” that includes endangering migrants' lives by stealing their blankets in the middle of winter, according to international charitable group Doctors Without Borders – known commonly by its French acronym, MSF.

The forced closure of migrant camps such as the notorious “Jungle” in Calais earlier in October have led to the influx of migrants into the French capital. With only one reception center, hundreds of migrants are being forced to sleep on the streets, where they are now forced to withstand constant police harassment.

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MSF has reported the use of tear gas to disperse migrants, constant police vigils that wake them up in the middle of the night and not allowing them to sit down while they wait for shelter in the La Chapelle neighborhood.

“In the heart of winter, public powers should be able to provide shelter for all migrants, as a matter of urgency. Instead, the forces of order confiscate their covers or force them to stay standing in a waiting line for hours, in a ridiculous bid to remove this population in distress from public view,” MSF program coordinator Corinne Torre told The Independent.

“This denial of reality through the use of violence must stop.”

This has resulted in at least eight people close to hypothermia being treated, according to the organization.

While French Minister of the Interior Bruno Le Roux has admitted that “sometimes there can be difficulties associated with finding shelter for migrants,” he has capriciously refused to believe the accounts that police are harassing migrants on the streets.

“I absolutely do not share this vision. What the police force is doing today is providing shelter for vulnerable people,” he said, according to The Independent.

In Paris, however, some 30 makeshift migrant camps have been cleared between June 2015 and November 2016, RT reported.

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And contrary to what Le Roux may think, it can actually be nearly impossible – almost always – to find decent shelters.

In Paris, authorities recently closed a large makeshift camp and have announced a zero-tolerance policy against roadside shelters, which is being enforced through an increased police presence and fences covering many parts of the city.

Now, the city’s only center, at a cost of US$7 million, often sees a queue of about 100-150 migrants waiting daily for admission, often having to sleep outside, MSF reported.

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