DThe French government has set itself the goal of making the refugee camps disappear under bridges, at metro stations or in parks during the Summer Olympics. The people are therefore taken by bus to so-called temporary reception centers outside the capital region. But now there is resistance to the migrants being transported to the province.

The mayor of Orléans, Serge Grouard, sent a protest note to the Minister of the Interior. Since last May, 40 people have been taken to Orléans by bus every three weeks. “All of this is happening in secret, without us knowing exactly what will become of these people,” said the mayor, a renegade Republican, indignantly. The government refused to give him precise information.

“We know that these people are mostly migrants and they are being cared for for about three weeks by an organization contracted by the state,” Grouard said. But since the emergency shelters in Orléans are overloaded, they are mostly accommodated in hotels. Around 500 people have arrived since the campaign began. “Orléans is not called upon to host the Parisian crack hill,” he criticized.

This refers to the notorious open drug scene on the northern edge of the capital, which mainly attracts young men with a migrant background. At the beginning of 2020, the Umschlagplatz was officially closed, but in reality it was just relocated to the surrounding neighborhoods. To date, there is no action plan for crack addicts. In any case, Mayor Grouard does not want his city to have to suffer the failure of those responsible in Paris. “All of this is shocking. “Moving people to cities where they cannot actually be cared for and doing it secretly without informing the mayor,” he said on France Bleu radio.

Government denies connection to the Summer Games

The government has rejected the idea that the eviction and relocation operation in Paris is related to the Olympics. Rather, the migrants are being trafficked to other regions in the name of national solidarity. Every month, more than 2,000 migrants are being moved from the capital region of Île-de-France to other regions where new reception centers have been set up.

The capital region already looks after an average of 120,000 people per night in emergency accommodation. The public reception centers are far from sufficient, which is why hotels are used for accommodation. But many hoteliers registered their own needs in time for the Olympic Games. They would rather rent out their rooms more lucratively to Olympic visitors.

Aid organizations complain about the authorities' actions. Athletes and visitors from all over the world should be presented with a flawless cityscape in the Olympic summer. “The Olympics are a beautiful veneer that hides poverty,” said Paul Alauzy for the action alliance “The Other Side of the Coin.” The evictions of tent camps and other makeshift accommodation for migrants and homeless people are a “social cleansing that makes solidarity disappear”.

Over the weekend, members of the “The Other Side of the Coin” collective hung posters at famous Parisian landmarks. “Olympics 2024: Open borders for the rich, social cleansing for the poor,” it says.

“Social cleansing”

“By social cleansing we mean all current evictions,” said Antoine de Clerck, the collective’s coordinator. These evictions are often carried out without concrete alternative solutions for those affected. Police forces are currently combing the neighborhoods on the banks of the Seine. “These evictions in the immediate vicinity of the Seine River have something to do with the Olympic Games,” speculated Paul Alauzy, adding, “We want a nice opening ceremony, so the police are being sent in to drive away anything disruptive.” The collective demands that an initial reception center will be established in Paris so that refugees and other homeless people have a place of refuge during the games.

The acceptance of migrants from the capital repeatedly triggers defensive reflexes in the affected communities. There were demonstrations against new reception centers in all parts of the country. The protest was particularly violent in Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, a municipality on the Atlantic coast, where the mayor was only lucky to escape from his burning house.

Uncontrolled immigration is also the main issue of the Rassemblement National's leading candidate in the European election campaign, Jordan Bardella. He organized “States General of Migration” in Paris on Tuesday. He criticized the organized “flooding” of rural and small-town regions with immigrants. He claimed to be the real heir to long-time President Jacques Chirac (1995 to 2007). At a general meeting of the opposition in Villepinte in 1990, a “zero quota for immigration” was decided. At the time, Chirac also advocated “a differentiation between French and foreigners in the area of ​​family benefits.”