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“Social cleansing” in Paris Ahead to Pre-Olympics 2024

by Rahil M
0 comment

Paris has followed a playbook that was used by other Olympic host cities of relocating the homeless, migrants, squatters and sex workers.

The French government set out an operation to bus ‘undesirable’ people out of Paris city in order to widen the Ile-de-France region. Thousands of homeless people have been removed and relocated from Paris and surrounding regions to ‘clean up’ ahead of the Olympic games. 

French authorities have introduced a new strategy to address the homelessness in Paris. 

Paris has followed a playbook that was used by other Olympic host cities of relocating the homeless, migrants, squatters and sex workers. A report says the group of people that are relocated include asylum seekers, families and children that already require care and are in a difficult situation. 

The authorities have established 10 temporary centers across France in cities such as Toulouse, Bordeaux, Angers and Strasbourg to remove and relocate this group from the stress of Paris. More than 60 French organizations have termed this operation as “social cleaning”. This is an attempt to boost the city’s image ahead of the 2024 Olympics but at the expense of the homeless. They sent a letter to the organizers of the Olympic games expressing their concerns. Paul Alauzy represents the collective of associations known as “Le revers de la médaille,” or “The other side of the medal.” 

The actions by the French police run from July 26 to August 11 to clear squats, migrant camps and the homeless from the streets of Paris ahead of the Olympics. There have been 30 operations until 2022 and so far until 2024, 26 operations have taken place to clear migrant camps. 

In April last year, a former factory close to the Olympics village which is said to be Paris’s largest squat, Unibeton had been dismantled which affected 1967 people. Around 400 people from Chad and Sudan were evicted from the site that was occupied for three years. 

As a means of relieving housing pressure in the capital, two thirds of the 6000 migrants were sent to regional authorities by public authorities in 2023.

The increased police pressure in areas used by sex workers in the Eastern Vincennes wood and northern Paris have resulted in identity checks, detentions, and expulsion orders for many people. Due to these actions, Paris will be able to present itself in a way that the authorities find favorable, a sterile ‘City of Lights’ this summer. With its misery almost invisible, clean neighborhoods without beggars, drugs and sex workers. 

The Paris IIe de France Prefecture aims to secure more dignified accommodation irrespective of the Olympics, their approach remains the same. They are committed to getting these individuals off the streets while ensuring social and administrative follow-ups. On the other hand this is the most ideal solution for the homeless people with the saturation of accommodation in the Paris region. The creation of SAS (Support and Accommodation Structures) has been the best fitting solution who relocated 3192 homeless people which also included 734 families and 2458 men. 

Paul Alauzy said that the government of Paris revealed that about 2800 homeless people that were living on the streets are relocated to other regions. The front of the Paris City Hall is filled with families and minors in evenings to seek shelter. Although during the Olympics this will not be permitted. Adjacent to the Paris City Hall, is a food distribution point for the refugees. The organization distributed 40,000 meals in six weeks in 2023. For most people this would be the first and the only meal for the day.

The City Hall had been asking questions to the government about the relocation of the homeless people, said the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. The authorities who are responsible for the emergency relocation are expected to come up with a full proof plan for housing 3600 people living on the streets for many years. 

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