Paris to open reception centre for migrants

Paris to open reception centre for migrants
Workers prepare the new reception center for migrants in Paris, today. Pic: AP

The mayor of Paris has presented a plan to open a new reception centre for migrants in the French capital.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the centre in north Paris, designed for up to 400 people, is aimed at taking care of "several dozen migrants arriving every day" in the city.

People will be allowed to stay there for up to 10 days before being transferred to other facilities in France where they can apply for asylum.

Ms Hidalgo says she hopes to have the centre open by mid-October and that it will prevent migrants from camping in squalid conditions elsewhere in the capital.

French authorities say about 15,000 migrants have been removed from Paris streets and parks and given shelter since June 2015.

The new centre is going to be managed by Emmaus Solidarite, a non-profit organisation specialised in fighting poverty and homelessness.

In total, 200 social workers will help take care of the migrants.

The mayor of the northern 18th district, Eric Lejoindre, said Parisians living in the area have expressed concerns over the project.

He promised a "sober, clean, nice" place.

"Our goal is not to move the problem. It's to solve it where we can," he said.

The Paris centre will be made of shipping containers and include showers and toilets, and it will also have football fields, leisure rooms and a place where they can get new clothes so that they "feel welcomed", architect Julien Beller said.

Workers prepare the new reception center for migrants in Paris, today. Pic: AP
Workers prepare the new reception center for migrants in Paris, today. Pic: AP

Ms Hidalgo's announcement comes after an overnight fire at a shelter for migrants due to open next month in Forges-Les-Bains, west of Paris.

If the investigation shows the fire was started deliberately, "everything will be done to arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators of the heinous act," the Interior Ministry said in a written statement.

Another centre of 350 places for women and families will open at the end of the year in the suburban town of Ivry-sur-Seine, south east of Paris.

The Paris mayor's initiative comes after criticism from abroad over France's handling of the migration crisis.

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