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In Photos: Paris Police Evacuate the City's Largest Slum

Temporary two-week accommodation has been set up for the slum's former residents — but many have no idea where they will go when those two weeks are up.

by Etienne Rouillon
Feb 4 2016, 6:55pm

Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News

Many of the residents had already left when police entered what charity and aid workers have described as the biggest slum in Paris. Up until last week, the shantytown — which is located near Porte de Clignancourt, in the north of the French capital — housed nearly 300 Roma and Romanian nationals.

There were only a few dozen people left Wednesday, most of them families with elderly relatives and children. They emerged from the disused rail track to board buses, chartered by the city to take them to hotels in the suburbs. Residents will receive temporary accommodation in hotels for two weeks, after which their stay can supposedly be renewed, though authorities haven't explained the process.

The slum, which contains 60 makeshift homes, is built along the Petite Ceinture, a historic, abandoned rail track. Roma advocacy groups have criticized the forced eviction, saying police operations are not the appropriate solution to the issue of Roma slums in and around Paris.

Meanwhile, local authorities have justified the eviction by saying that residents are vulnerable to fires and tuberculosis.

In September 2015, SNCF Réseau — the rail company that owns the disused track — filed a complaint against the residents for unlawful occupation of the land. The Paris High Court issued an eviction notice on September 30, 2015.

The eviction started Wednesday, shortly after 7:15am. Two hours later, all residents had left, and police did a final round of checking each shack in preparation for the razing of the camp.

At 6am, the first reporters and activists arrive at the scene, but many residents have already left, fearing a forced eviction at the hands of the police.

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The slum sits alongside the disused rail track near Porte de Clignancourt. The city ordered the eviction after expressing concern over the sanitary and security conditions inside the slum.

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Shortly after 7am, riot police arrive at the slum accompanied by local officials, and ask the residents to leave their homes.

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Police officers inspect the site as the remaining families walk along the track to register with officials, who took down their names and asked them about their housing needs.

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Dozens of children were living in the slum. Some of the residents previously resided in the Samaritain slum, which was dismantled by the police in the summer.

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Residents climb up a staircase set up to replace the makeshift wooden steps formerly used to enter and exit the slum.

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Traffic is temporarily stopped on Boulevard Niamey so the eviction can proceed and residents can board buses that take them to hotels and shelters in and around Paris.

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A child in one of the buses shuttling residents to hotels and shelters.

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Security officials from the SNCF inspect the shacks on either side of the rail track.

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A security officer finds a kitten in one of the shacks.

All photos by Étienne Rouillon. Follow him on Twitter: @rouillonetienne

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This article originally appeared in VICE News' French edition.

Tagged:
Paris
Politics
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eviction
Roma
SNCF
Petite Ceinture
slum
porte de clignancourt
shanty town