French police are stealing blankets and sleeping bags from refugees who are forced to sleep in freezing conditions in Paris, says a report.
According to an exclusive report published by The Independent on Saturday, police in the French capital are also using teargas on men, women and children refugees and “violently” forcing them out of the city.
Several Eritrean families said that police told them to “get out of France” while officers took their blankets in terrible weather conditions, with temperatures reaching below -7 degrees Celsius.
“While we were there we witnessed the police taking people’s belongings – some in the night, some in the daytime – it’s quite a visible phenomenon,” said the deputy director of the Refugee Rights Data Project, Natalie Stanton. “The same night the government announced a plan to keep everyone warm, we witnessed police picking up blankets and putting them in a big rubbish bin on the back of a truck, then driving away,” she added.
According to the report, around two thirds of the refugees interviewed said they were woken in the middle of the night by police and forced to relocate. Around half of those interviewed reported the incident as being violent.
One middle-aged man said that the police had kicked him so hard that he was forced to stay in hospital for 20 days. Some others said that the police used teargas against them when they did not immediately comply. “If we question them or say we have nowhere to go, they bring out the teargas,” said an Afghan refugee.
“Some people had such horrendous experiences during their journeys that it’s just another problem,” said Stanton, noting that most of the refugees were “shocked” by the treatment they received in France. “They were thinking they would have somewhere safe to sleep,” she added.
Over 340 refugees and people displaced by war in their countries — staying on the streets of Paris’s La Chapelle district — were interviewed for the report. Most hailed from Afghanistan, the rest were from mainly African nations.