Europe

France migrants: Rise in people sleeping rough in Paris

Migrants sit in their tents at a makeshift migrant camp on a street near the metro stations of Jaures and Stalingrad in Paris (28 October 2016) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some migrants might be biding their time in Paris to see whether the Calais route to the UK might become feasible once again

There has been a big increase in the number of migrants living rough in Paris, possibly linked to the closure of Calais's so-called "Jungle" camp, officials and social workers say.

Numbers are reported to have risen from 1,500 to 2,500 in a week in the north-east of the capital, an area where there are regular illegal encampments.

Hundreds of tents have been pitched by migrants - mostly from Africa.

But officials stress the rise does not represent a huge explosion in numbers.

BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield says that tents and makeshift shelters have become a familiar sight near the Stalingrad and Jean Jaures metro stations.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many migrants spent Thursday night camped on a roadside between the Stalingrad and Jaures Paris metro stations

In the the last few days, the numbers of people living on the streets here has gone up by several hundred, our correspondent says.

Officials say it is likely that many of the migrants are from Calais, but they are not the people who have been taken on buses to centres around the country in the last few days;.

They are more likely to be migrants who left the Jungle two or three weeks ago when it became clear that the Calais camp was going to be cleared.

Some will presumably be biding their time in the capital to see whether the Calais route to the UK might become feasible once again, our correspondents says.

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"It's not a huge explosion in numbers but there is a clear increase," the Paris deputy mayor in charge of security issues told the Reuters news agency.

"Some of them come from Calais, others from other places," Colombe Brossel added.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Officials insist that recent migrant arrivals in Paris do not represent a huge explosion in numbers

France's asylum chief Pascal Brice also said the arrival of the migrants did not represent a wholesale movement from the Jungle to the capital.

"There might be some movements at the margins [towards Paris] but what is crucial is that those 6,000 people have been protected," he told Reuters.

Many of the migrants are believed to be from Sudan and spent Thursday night camped on a roadside between the Stalingrad and Jaures Paris metro stations. They dispersed on Friday morning, many carrying their tents while police patrolled the centre of the boulevard.

Police checked ID papers and asylum requests before allowing the migrants to return to the central reservation to put their tents back up, officials said.

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.