French President Francois Hollande vowed Saturday to shut down a bulging migrant camp in Paris, after his government moved 5,000 people from a camp in northern France in an overdue effort to tackle the migrant crisis. The makeshift camps in Calais on the English Channel and in the French capital have become visible symbols of the country’s struggle to accommodate migrants and refugees seeking better lives in Europe. Hollande also urged Britain to do more to help underage migrants in Calais, a port city that has long been a magnet for desperate travelers from the Mideast and Africa seeking to reach British shores.
“We cannot tolerate camps,” Hollande said, calling the street encampments “not worthy” of France. “We will evacuate the camps in Paris, because it cannot be a long-lasting solution.”
He played down concerns that the closure of the Calais camp this week has driven its residents to the sidewalks of Paris, notably near the Stalingrad subway station.
Most migrants recently amassing around the station are part of a “new migratory current coming from Libya these last weeks and months,” Hollande said. Migrant camps routinely sprout up in Paris, are cleared out, and then sprout up again. Paris regional authorities say 19,000 migrants have been shifted to temporary housing since June 2015.
Hollande insisted that France would shelter asylum-seekers and deport those without the right to asylum. The migrants in Calais and Paris include war refugees, as well as people fleeing poverty and seeking jobs.
Hollande said 5,000 migrants were evacuated from the Calais camp this week and transferred to some 450 reception centers around France. He met Saturday with migrants taken to a center in Doue-la-Fontaine in western France.
About 1,500 underage migrants remain in Calais in a special shelter, and Hollande urged British authorities to “do their part” to settle them in Britain. He said he spoke Friday to British Prime Minister Theresa May about the issue.
The daughter of a stockbroker nicknamed `Britain’s Schindler’ for saving Jewish children from the Nazis also is appealing to the country to do more for today’s child refugees. Barbara Winton said in remarks on the website of the organization Help Refugees that the best way to honor her father’s memory is “to show the same concern and compassion he did then, for those in danger and in need now.”
Anti-immigrant sentiment in Britain and France has complicated efforts to address the long-running Calais migrant drama.