Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo says France needs to urgently find shelter for more than 2,000 migrants and asylum-seekers setting up makeshift slums in the city, calling the situation "unacceptable."
A slum, mainly home to Afghan asylum-seekers, has been spreading along the Canal Saint-Martin in recent months and has now swelled to at least 800 people. Another 1,500 people, mostly Eritrean and Sudanese, have converged under an overpass on the Canal St Denis further to the north.
"If nothing is done, in two weeks there will be 3,000," Hidalgo told AFP on Thursday, noting that she had asked the central government to find shelter but had so far "not had a response."
Some have arrived in Paris from the northern port of Calais, where migrants have flocked for years hoping to stow away on trucks to Britain.
On Wednesday, U.N. human rights experts denounced the "inhumane situation" in northern France, urging the government to provide water and emergency shelters.
"We are concerned about increasingly regressive migration policies and the inhumane and substandard conditions suffered by migrants," the U.N.'s special rapporteur on migrant rights, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, said in a statement from Geneva.
The government's draft law criminalizes illegal border crossings and speeds up procedures to deport economic migrants, while offering allegedly faster asylum procedures.
Several NGOs and other critics say the new laws will lead to thousands of deportations, and the government has already abandoned a proposal to deport failed asylum-seekers to third countries deemed 'safe.'
"We're lying to the French by saying this is a temporary crisis that we'll fix with an immigration law," Hidalgo said. "Let's be practical: find shelter for the people sleeping in the camps, and then we can look at their situations."