- Title: Paris opens new-style quick reception centre to help solve migrant crisis
- Date: 1st December 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - NOVEMBER 3, 2016) (REUTERS) TENTS ALONG PAVEMENT IN MAKESHIFT CAMP IN NORTH EAST PARIS MIGRANTS WALKING NEXT TO TENTS IN CAMP MIGRANT GROOMING ANOTHER MIGRANTS WALKING NEXT TO TENTS, BEDDING COVERED IN STAINS MIGRANT SITTING NEXT TO TENT TENTS NEXT TO CANAL
- Embargoed: 16th December 2016 14:08
- Keywords: migrants Paris centre refugees asylum France Stalingrad camp Calais
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA0025B1YD6V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE TRANSLATION OF DARI IN SHOT 22 PROVIDED BY INTERPRETER ON THE GROUND
A brand new 400-bed reception centre for migrants opened last month in the north of Paris, giving them temporary refuge until French authorities find them a more permanent solution.
Osman, a 19-year-old asylum-seeker from Sudan, had been on the migrant route for almost a year, travelling through Libya, Italy, and France. Had he arrived a few weeks earlier, he might have ended up in a squalid camp, like the dozens that have sprung up in the city in the past.
The 400-bed centre, located in a vast concrete warehouse on a former industrial zone, offers to Osman and other single men a temporary refuge for up to 10 days, until the government has worked out a more permanent solution for them.
"I entered the centre after I spent five days sleeping outdoors, on the street, near the bridge. I am happy after coming here," Osman, who formerly worked in Sudan's gold-mines, told Reuters on Friday (November 25).
By November 24, some 1,253 people had passed through the centre's welcome point - an inflatable bubble designed by a German architect -, with families, women and unaccompanied minors being redirected to other government-sponsored housing.
More than 700 men, coming mostly from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan have been accommodated already on the site in wooden cabins accommodating four men each.
Humanitarian workers inform them of their rights and direct them to a possible housing, and they are given the opportunity to eat hot meals, rest, shower, and are provided with clean and warm clothing as needed.
"We really see that people are calm. There is a sort of serene atmosphere. What do these people need? They really need to be able to develop a plan. Now that they don't need to worry about day-to-day survival problems we can help them in developing a plan, especially in giving them information that they lack," Bruno Morel, head of NGO Emmaus Solidarite which manages the centre, said.
French authorities are touting the centre, which has been set up at a cost of 6.5 million euros ($7 million), as a model for others to follow.
"I think it's necessary that along the migrant routes, we find this type of place which can welcome a number of people in decent conditions before they go back to the migrant route. I hope that other big regions in France will want to build centres such as these. I think in Europe, with different conditions depending on the country - countries who take in (migrants), others who take in a lot less - I think there remains a lot of work to be done on a European level, to make sure that the welcome (of migrants) is discussed not only in Brussels but in all the countries across Europe. And I think that if our centre works, if what we continue to do works, it would be a good example to follow," said Eric Lejoindre, mayor for Paris's 18th district, where the centre is located.
In just 18 months, from June 2015 to November 2016, thirty makeshift camps have been cleared in Paris, with authorities providing emergency shelter for 22,000 migrants, according to a town hall spokesman.
Three weeks after the opening of this new centre, such camps are no longer springing up, authorities say.
Several NGOs working with migrants worry, though, that with its limited capacity, the centre might not solve the problem in the long-run.
For now, authorities say the centre is running smoothly, and is trying to ensure that all newcomers are housed quickly.
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