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France ‘hiding poverty’ in ‘social cleansing’ for Paris Olympics


France is trying to “hide poverty” ahead of the Paris Olympics, according to a new report that accuses it of “social cleansing”.

Authorities have resorted to clearing squares in Paris where homeless families congregate, according to Le Revers de la Medaille (The Other Side of the Coin) – a collective that includes leading charities.

The report claims that evictions are on the increase, and there will be more in the run up to July 26, the day the games begin.

The French capital is preparing to welcome crowds of high-spending spectators to the £4 billion-plus sporting showpiece.

Paul Alauzy, a spokesman for the collective, said that “things are spiralling out of control” as “expulsions and police interventions within future security perimeters” increase.

These include the area around the Seine in central Paris, where an ambitious opening ceremony involving dozens of team barges will take place.

‘Widespread anger from families’

Last week, up to 150 people, including many children, were moved out of a makeshift camp by the Hôtel de Ville – Paris city hall.

It overlooks the Seine and currently has a vast Olympic logo on its façade, along with other promotional material.

A charity worker who saw them being dispersed told The Telegraph: “They were forced onto coaches, and told they would be taken to Besançon for processing.”

Many objected to being driven to the eastern city, which is more than 250 miles from Paris, even though they can access temporary accommodation there.

“There was no violence, but widespread anger from the families involved, many of whom were from African countries and finding it difficult to cope in France,” said the charity worker.

“Many of them were asylum seekers who wanted to stay in Paris while their applications were being processed, but it seems this is not allowed while the Olympics is going on.”

‘Hiding poverty’

Police operations aimed at removing tents used by homeless people on the banks of the Seine are also regularly taking place.

Figures suggest that there were 33 major camp evictions in the year up until March, compared with 19 in the year up until March last year, the report claims.

It also points to other cities in France involved in the Olympics being subjected to “social cleansing” aimed at “hiding poverty”.

A shanty town next to the football stadium in Bordeaux where Olympic football will take place was cleared at the end of March.

Spokesmen for the Ville de Paris and France’s interior ministry denied that there was any official policy of “social cleansing” or “hiding poverty”, least of all in time for the Olympics.

“Police are obliged to close down unauthorised camps for hygiene and security reasons,’” said a Hôtel de Ville source.

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