Refugees pitch tents in Paris after shutdown of Calais camp

Hundreds of tents have been pitched by refugees along the streets of Paris after the Calais camp was demolished earlier this week.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees sit in their tents at a makeshift camp on a street near the metro stations of Jaures and Stalingrad in Paris, France, October 28, 2016.

French officials say the number of refugees sleeping on the streets of Paris has risen by at least a third since the camp in Calais known as the 'Jungle', was demolished earlier this week.

Along the bustling boulevards and a canal in a northeastern corner of Paris, hundreds of tents have been pitched by refugees with cardboard on the ground to try and insulate them from the cold autumn chill.

Colombe Brossel, Paris deputy mayor in charge of security issues speaking to Reuters said, "We have seen a big increase since the start of the week. Last night, our teams counted 40 to 50 new tents there in two days."

He added that there was now a total of 700 to 750.

Now, some 2,000 to 2,500 people are sleeping in the area, up from around 1,500 a few days before.

"It's not a huge explosion in numbers, but there is a clear increase," she said.

"Some of them come from Calais, others from other places."

After years of serving as an unauthorised base camp for refugees trying to get to Britain, the 'Jungle' at Calais was finally bulldozed this week and over 6,000 refugees from the ramshackle camp near the English channel were relocated to shelters around France.

France's asylum chief Pascal Brice speaking to Reuters said, "There might be some movements at the margins (towards Paris) but what is crucial is that those 6,000 people have been protected."

Between the Stalingrad and Jaures metro stations in Paris, refugees who spent the night camped out on the median strip of a major road, with traffic passing on either side, had scattered on Friday morning, many carrying their tents while police patrolled the centre of the boulevard.

Refugees standing near their tents are seen at a makeshift camp by the canal in Saint-Martin in Paris, France, October 28, 2016. (Reuters)

Refugees and officials said police checked ID papers and asylum requests and later let the refugees return to the central strip of the avenue where they put their tents back up.

"There's a lot of new people here," said Mustafa, 21, from Darfur, as he waited on the side of the road.

Ali, also from Sudan, said, "I see more people than before. People came yesterday and the day before from Calais."

Ama, a 24-year-old Sudanese who is six months pregnant, said she had come to Paris from Calais, but that was months ago.

"I was in Calais before, but I did not find the route to Britain. I couldn't stay over there being pregnant as it was too hard."

Tents are seen at a makeshift refugee camp on a street near the Stalingrad metro station in Paris, France, October 28, 2016. (Reuters)

Brossel said it was up to the central government, and not city authorities, to act.

"These people must be sheltered."

The city of Paris has plans to open two refugee centres, but they would only have a total capacity of under a 1,000 beds.