POLICE in Paris have been threatening refugees sleeping rough with tear gas and even taking blankets off them in sub-zero weather.
Research by the Refugee Rights Data Project, published in the Independent at the weekend, reveals that more than half of refugees in Paris have been violently moved on by authorities which have adopted a zero-tolerance policy to roadside shelters.
Most incidents took place in La Chapelle where refugees queue for places at a humanitarian centre, opened by the French government in Novemeber, sometimes for two weeks.
One Afghan man said: “If we question them or say we have nowhere to go, they bring out the tear gas.”
British teacher Sarah Fenby-Dixon, who has been volunteering with refugees in Paris since July, told the Star: “In Britain teargasing would be the last line of defence but here it seems to be the first.”
Refugees are not allowed to put up tents, forcing them to sleep under bridges or out in the open.
However, Ms Fenby-Dixon said that police had even prevented them from taking shelter under bridges by placing boulders there.
“They just want them out of sight. The whole policy is to make it as difficult for them as possible,” she said.
Ms Fenby-Dixon even highlighted a case of a refugee from Afghanistan who had been beaten in the kidneys by police, despite having kidney problems.
Reports by the Refugee Rights Data Project detailed accounts by volunteers who had witnessed officers taking people’s belongings — sometimes in broad daylight.
An estimated 400-500 refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia, sleep rough on the streets of Paris.
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