'Get out of France': Paris police tear gassing refugees and stealing blankets in freezing conditions, report reveals

Exclusive: 'Alarming' research shows almost two thirds of migrants 'violently' forced to move

Refugees sleeping on the streets in freezing conditions in Paris are having their blankets and sleeping bags stolen by police while being “violently” forced to move on, a report has found.

Research exclusively published by The Independent shows that men, women and children are being beaten and tear gassed by officers in the French capital, despite government pledges to shelter vulnerable people.

Eritrean families said they were told to “get out of France” as police tore away children’s blankets, leaving them without protection as the bitter temperatures plummeted to -7C.

Natalie Stanton, deputy director of the Refugee Rights Data Project, said researchers were confronted by “alarming” scenes in the La Chapelle area, where authorities have launched numerous clearance operations in recent months.

“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,” she added.

“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.”

Almost two thirds of homeless refugees interviewed said they had been woken up and forced to move, with 54 per cent describing the experience as “violent” and saying they were afraid, having been given no reason for the intervention.

One 45-year-old man told researchers an officer kicked him so hard in the shoulder that he was admitted to hospital for the next 20 days for treatment, while others described being tear gassed if they did not move quickly enough.

According to one young Afghan man: “If we question them or say we have nowhere to go, they bring out the tear gas.”

Around 37 per cent of respondents said they had experienced other forms of police violence in Paris, including physical beatings and verbal abuse, while a third had sleeping bags, tents, blankets, clothes and other belongings taken by police or other rough sleepers.

“Some people had such horrendous experiences during their journeys that it’s just another problem,” Ms Stanton said.

Source: Independent