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The Dismantling of the République “Camp”: How the “Migrant Hunt” in France Became Visible

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

Photo © William Keo

In less than 48 hours of existence the "camp" in Républic Square in central Paris, and the violent evacuation that followed, brought to light a reality which still undermines the myth of France as a country of human rights. The République “camp” episode followed the dismantling, on November 17th, of the Saint-Denis camp, causing the evacuation of 2,000 refugees and migrants who were present there. The disorganization of the evacuation system and the use of tear gas on the populations of the camp captured the attention of the media and aroused indignation. Of these 2,000 people, between 500- 1,000 migrants and refugees were violently dispersed and forced to break camp with nowhere to go. This was followed by a police hunt, to avoid the installation of other camps. Forced to move aimlessly for days, some of these migrants and refugees ended up in the 500 or so tents that made up the République “camp.”

Since waves of terrorist attacks have plagued France, the government has continued to plead in favor of a state of emergency, justifying the putting on hold of individual freedoms. This trend was confirmed with the health crisis and the official ‘state of health emergency’ imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The infringements of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals present on French soil are real and have earned France recurring condemnations from NGOs and the European Court of Human Rights.

For many, these violations are illustrated by cases of police brutality. International observers are unanimous - Yes, France has a problem with racism and police violence.

At the forefront of this violence are populations on the margins of society, including migrants and refugees. For these people on the move, police violence is experienced regularly as soon as they enter the French territory. The emblematic example of these practices on migrant populations is that of the Manche department, and in particular, the agglomeration of Calais.

While Calais has had to face this violence for more than ten years now, it took a journalist being physically attacked by French police and a recent "migrant hunt" in the heart of Paris, for this reality to end up attracting public opinion and illustrating, even if furtively, the erratic management of the migration "crisis" by the French and European authorities.

The President of the Republic, guardian of the constitution and of the values ​​of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, remains camped in denial, to the point of coming into conflict with the North American media who dare to put into question the ideal of France of the human rights.

If you want to support non-profits that help migrants, refugees and people experiencing homelessness, please check out the following organizations:

  • Solidarité Migrants Wilson: Patrols the streets to find out about and meet basic needs (food distributions, distribution of tents, equipment and blankets, information dissemination, etc.) for the populations in the street, in particular in northern Paris:

  • Utopia 56: This non-profit’s core action is providing accommodation, but they also works in half a dozen French towns to help migrants and refugees through the distribution of basic necessities (in particular clothing, hygiene products and sleeping equipment) For a material donation, please follow the link:

  • Finally, if you are based in France and you are looking for useful information on helping people near you (reception, meals, luggage, legal and administrative assistance, food distributions, etc.), Soliguide brings together all of these services, initiatives and resources for people in difficult situations:

Photo © William Keo
Photo © William Keo

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