On the eve of the Olympics, the largest squat was broken up in France

Cairo: Hani Kamal El-Din


In France, on the eve of the Olympic Games, the police are trying to clear Paris of homeless people and illegal migrants. On Wednesday, law enforcement officials evicted all residents from the country’s largest squat on the northern outskirts of Paris. They were expelled from the capital.

About 450 people lived in the abandoned building, which once housed a bus company office. Almost all of them are not natives of France. Some of them are illegal immigrants, the other part are legal residents of the country with refugee status or another residence permit; many were employed, but could not find housing. Among those living in the squat there were about 50 women and 20 children, with at least 10 children attending the district school.

How reports Le Monde, buses were brought to the building. Under police control, more than 300 residents of the squat were loaded with their belongings. The buses went to Orleans in central France and Bordeaux in the southwest of the country. What social assistance will be provided to displaced people in these cities is not specified.

Medical worker Paul Alauzi, who has been providing assistance to the residents of the squat for several years, called the eviction of its residents “a social cleansing before the Olympics.” He told The Guardian said the number of people living in the squat has doubled over the past year as authorities cleared illegal squatters from other abandoned houses in the run-up to the Olympics. Last year, police dispersed a squat in the Ile-Saint-Denis area where the Olympic village had been built.

According to Alauzi, most of the squat’s residents are from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Moreover, more than half of them live in France legally, many work. However, according to the doctor, migrants face everyday racism: landlords often refuse to rent them housing even if they have all the documents, and people have to live in abandoned buildings.

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