French police have cleared out around 1,000 people from the largest makeshift migrant camp in Paris, which had become a focal point in the county’s immigration debate.
The mainly African migrants were moved out of their tent camp along a canal used by joggers and cyclists on the capital’s north-east edge, before being put in buses and taken to gymnasiums in the region as bulldozers ripped out the tents.
Several hundred migrants apparently fled before the evacuation.
The evacuation was delayed for months amid bickering over what to do with the migrants.
The encampment held at least 1,400 migrants, local officials have said, but 1,016 were evacuated. Two other makeshift camps in Paris holding some 1,000 migrants are expected to be cleared next week.
President Emmanuel Macron wants a tough response to migrants arriving in France. Two days ago, he nevertheless opened the way to citizenship and a job for a Malian migrant who scaled a building and saved a young child dangling from a balcony in what Mr Macron called “an exceptional act”.
A video of Mamoudou Gassama’s feat went viral, gaining him the nickname Spiderman.
Ms Hidalgo, who has paid weekly visits to the encampment, said she was pleased that the migrants were being taken to shelters, but added: “I think we could have done without the four-month wait.”
“This is an issue of dignity,” said Pierre Henry, head of an aid group, France Terre D’Asile. “Street camps should not exist in our country.”