Paris Will Open Its First Refugee Camp 'Within Weeks'

"Paris will not stand idly by while the Mediterranean becomes a refugee graveyard."

Paris will open its first formal camp for refugees and migrants to assist the "destitute," the city's Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced Tuesday.

Her team has identified several sites in northern Paris for the camp, which would be set up for several hundred people, Hidalgo said during a press conference, without going into further detail. The city plans to open it in about six weeks.

"Paris will not stand idly by while the Mediterranean becomes a refugee graveyard," Hidalgo added

The facility will serve as a day center, but the city also plans to build modular accommodation units that could be constructed rapidly and would ensure people's comfort.

The idea for the center, which Hildago said would conform to United Nations standards, came from the work that aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders performed with the local government this year to improve conditions within an informal camp in Grande-Synthe, a town near the northern port of Calais.

Hidalgo said she hopes that the the state agrees to partner with the city in the endeavor.

Paris has faced a surge in refugee arrivals in recent months. Authorities have time and again attempted to dismantle informal settlements that spring up in precarious places, like underneath the Stalingrad metro stop. In the past few days alone, almost 800 people have begun squatting near a public park in the city's 18th arrondissement, or district.

And cities like Calais and Grande-Synthe, near the entrance to the English Channel, have been buckling under the weight of thousands of people waiting for an opportunity to cross into the United Kingdom. Without any federal assistance, volunteers and aid organizations have for the most part been left to their own devices to provide food and shelter to people living in mud and among rats.



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