By Choekyi Lhamo
Tibetan asylum seekers gather by a portrait of His Holiness at a makeshift camp in Acheres (AFP)
DHARAMSHALA, DEC 4: French police have dismantled a makeshift camp on the edge of a forest outside Paris on Tuesday which was home to some 600 Tibetan asylum seekers. Local authorities in Yvelines
said that the camp was dismantled to ‘protect’ the migrants after growing health and safety concerns. It was carried out with the support of aid groups and volunteers, reports Radio France Internationale (RFI).
The men and women were loaded onto separate buses early Tuesday except for families with children; the camp was cleared according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter at the scene. The plan is to re-house the migrants in structures located outside of the Ile de France
(Island of France which includes the city of Paris) after they have been transferred to shelters for the time being.
The government’s regional office said in a statement, “Since 2017, nearly 800 of the migrants have already been placed in shelters.” This area first attracted Tibetans when a local aid association started offering meals, showers, and help to asylum seekers. The regional office stated their concerns about the housing of all the migrants, “But despite several housing facilities in the Yvelines
region, it is impossible to bring in such a large number of people in suitable conditions.”
The mayor of Acheres, Marc Honore, helped with the evacuation and expressed his concern by saying, “It's unacceptable to let these people live in these conditions. Every year, their number increases and it is not going to stop anytime soon.” The number of Tibetans living in France has gone up to almost 8,000 people, according to Francoise Robin, a Tibet specialist at National Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilisation in France.
A similar incident of dismantling of a refugee camp was reported in the French town of Conflans
in May. This camp was home to many asylum seekers which had around 100 tents on the Bank of River Seine. This incident left many refugees homeless as the following re-housing of the migrants could only accommodate 120 out of 200 Tibetans due to shortage of beds and lack of host families.
Many refugees from Tibet and exile have been seeking asylum in European countries to avoid persecution from the Chinese government and to better their financial conditions. A great influx of Tibetans in these developed countries has resulted in uncertain problems of legality and housing where many are left undone after years of struggle.