Ten huge rocks were scattered along l’avenue Président-Wilson – a wide avenue located some 100m from the overcrowded porte de La Chapelle reception centre – over the weekend, the French daily Le Parisien reports.
Forced to sleep rough on the streets after being repeatedly turned away from the 400-bed centre, migrants have set up a makeshift camp along the sheltered strip, which is currently strewn with rocks, rubbish and sleeping bags.
The local council’s controversial decision, however, has sparked a storm of outrage, and has been branded as both “shameful and disgusting” by pro-migrant militants.
Marin, a local resident, told Le Parisien: “I can’t believe officials put the boulders there just to stop migrants from sleeping outside the reception centre. It’s such a waste of money.”
Marwan, a young Sudanese migrant, told the daily newspaper that sleeping on a rock was “really hard,” both literally and figuratively speaking.
Some porte de Le Chapelle locals, however, believe that officials had no choice but to dump the ‘anti-migrant’ rocks along the strip.
Jean-Claude, a local resident, said: “I know, it sounds shocking, but the council had no other choice. “Officials are just trying to stop tent cities from sprouting up around Paris. And the porte de Le Chapelle reception centre is a magnet for migrants.”
Paris officials, for their part, did not deny that the boulders had been placed along the strip in a bid to “clear” the area; but argued that the piece of land would soon be turned into a “construction site” and that sleeping there was “not safe”.
A local council spokesman said: “This is not a harsh measure targeting migrants. The strip is located right under a railway bridge which is about to be demolished and rebuilt. It’s a preventive security measure.
“That said, we cannot let migrants turn porte de Le Chapelle into a huge campsite.”