The Mayor of Paris has been accused of actively trying to help migrants reach Britain. Anne Hidalgo, the city’s Socialist mayor, has revealed plans for a “welcome centre” for migrants who have so far been sleeping in makeshift camps on the streets. She hopes it will offer advice on claiming asylum or “in quite a few cases” tell them how to reach the UK.
Ms Hidalgo said that due to the rising number of immigrants reaching the French capital, “a centre must be opened to deal with migrants who don’t know where to go to ask for asylum. They need a place where they can stop and think.”
The centre, which could be open “within weeks”, will house the migrants for two weeks while they decide whether to claim asylum or head to Britain.
“There are also lots of people with the means, or who muster the means, to go and join their families. We know that quite a few refugees have family in Great Britain,” Hidalgo added.
The plans drew criticism from France’s opposition conservative party, which recently renamed itself The Republicans, with former Prime Minister François Fillon saying the government should “send illegal immigrants home” rather than “organising a tour of Paris”.
The Times reports that critics also warned that the camp could become a new “Sangatte of Paris” – a reference to the notorious refugee centre established outside of Calais in 1999 that became a base for people-traffickers. It closed after just three years.
Last week, police cleared around 350 migrants from camps at La Chapelle and the 18th Arrondissement in Paris amid clashes with left wing activists. Police also cleared two camps outside Calais following a brawl between Sudanese and Eritreans.