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Why French government is hurriedly pushing homeless out of Paris

Why French government is hurriedly pushing homeless out of Paris
11 Jul 2024

As the Olympic Games in Paris 2024 near, the French government is making every effort to beautify the city.

One of the measures is removing the thousands of homeless immigrants from the streets and transporting them out of Paris.

While the Emmanuel Macron government adamantly denies that this has nothing to do with the Olympics, reports suggest that the relocation of the homeless has been going on since last year.

Homeless sent away on buses with promises of housing
Relocation program

These people, many of whom were living in street encampments, shelters, or abandoned buildings near the newly constructed Olympic Village, are sent away on buses with promises of housing.

However, according to Mohamed Ibrahim, who was evicted from an abandoned cement factory near the Olympic Village, these promises often resulted in them living on unfamiliar streets or facing deportation.

Government's relocation program faces criticism

According to the New York Times, immigrants like Oumar Alamine claim they were given random tickets to cities such as Orleans.

Many of these individuals are unaware they are entering a program that screens for potential asylum eligibility and could potentially lead to deportation.

Yussuf Ahmed, an immigrant from Sudan, said they were promised housing and social help.

But, upon arrival in their new cities, they live in shelters for up to three weeks and are screened for asylum eligibility.

Relocated immigrants face uncertain future

In the end, about 60% of people in the temporary shelters do not receive long-term housing.

Christophe Noël du Payrat, a senior federal official in Paris, said that police and courts have evicted approximately 5,000 persons in the city over the past year, with the majority being single men.

City officials encourage them to take buses to places such as Lyon and Marseille, Payrat added.

'Antechamber to deportation'

The relocation program has been heavily criticized by lawyers and city officials outside Paris.

Emmanuel Pereira, a lawyer working near Paris, described the program as an "antechamber to deportation."

Audrey Garino, deputy mayor of Marseille, expressed frustration at the lack of consultation about the program.

She questioned the government's priorities, asking why there was money to bring homeless people from Paris but not enough to find places for them in Marseille.

Hotels in Paris canceling housing contracts to accommodate tourists

Even hotels in Paris are canceling emergency housing contracts with the government to accommodate the projected tourist surge, according to Paul Alauzy from Medecins Du Monde, an NGO that helps with homeless migrants.

In 2022, roughly 50,000 homeless persons were sheltered in hotels nightly in the Ile-de-France region, but by 2023, at least 5,000 of the previously accessible hotel slots had been canceled, according to CNN.

The Paris 2024 Olympics will last from July 26 to August 11.