YOU UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING – Strasbourg: camp on Place de l’Étoile, six months of tension between the city and the state

YOU UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING - Strasbourg: camp on Place de l'Étoile, six months of tension between the city and the state

The migrant camp, set up for more than six months on the Place de l’Etoile in Strasbourg, was evacuated on Tuesday morning.

More than six months after being set up on the Place de l’Étoile in Strasbourg, a few meters from the city hall, the migrant camp was evacuated on Tuesday morning. Police were deployed to the scene with buses to take care of those present

• From about forty migrants to 200 people

The camp was formed in May in the Parc de l’Étoile, initially gathering about forty people. They were mostly families from Eastern European countries (Georgia, Macedonia or Albania), homeless people, who sought asylum in France.

These migrants, housed in tents, have been increasing in number for weeks and reach up to 200 people, according to the associations that intervened on the spot.

• Rats and mice

These families quickly condemned the conditions of the camp with the presence of rats and mice. “We can’t take a shower, we can’t eat well, we can’t sleep well, it’s hard,” testified Sagb, a mother from Macedonia, at the microphone of BFM Alsace last July.

They only had access to the toilets of the bus station, 200 meters away, as well as the water point. The city of Strasbourg explained itself, stressing that it will convey the needs of these migrants to the competent services.

“We made orientations, we called 115 for families. We have done all the work needed to ensure that the families are taken care of,” Floriane Varieras, deputy mayor in charge of the inclusive city, told BFM Alsace in July.

She then reminded that the accommodation of these refugees is not the responsibility of the municipality and is the responsibility of the state.

• Short evacuation for July 14

A day after the on-site demonstration in the presence of the association, on July 11, the city announced the provision of a gymnasium to receive the migrants housed in the camp. In question: the 14th of July festivities that usually take place around the Place de l’Étoile with fireworks.

The city filed a temporary appeal before the administrative court to get the camp’s occupants evicted. Even before the summary judge’s answer, the municipality took the migrants to the gymnasium. A few hours later, the judge denied the summary, but the tenants had already been moved.

The Grammar School of Branly, in the Contades district, is thus requisitioned to receive families and provide them with beds, sanitary facilities and meals. It turned out that the solution was very temporary because they were offered other places of accommodation in coordination with the prefecture services.

• Quick return of the tent

Since the end of July, the tents have returned to the Place de l’Etoile in Strasbourg with at least a dozen people, in connection with associations that help migrants who have condemned the lack of a proposed permanent solution.

Once again, the living conditions were highlighted by the Bas-Rhin Red Cross, which visited the site at the end of August. In a press release, she pointed out “a very degraded situation from the point of view of hygiene and health, with the presence of many children who evolve in the midst of rats.”

• Transfer of weapons between city and state

At the same time, the mayor of Strasbourg, Jeanne Barseghian, pointed to the state’s responsibility for the situation of these migrants. “What we are waiting for now is not a number, it is not evictions, it is a dignified and human shelter for these families,” she explained on the BFM Alsace recording.

The mayor of Strasbourg then called on the state to “propose permanent solutions” for the migrants at Place de l’Étoile. As the gymnasium solution is only temporary, the city cannot “completely replace the state”, she insisted.

This inquiry sparked a clash with the prefect of Bas-Rhin who, in a press release, asked the mayor to “take the necessary measures” before the administrative court so that an operational shelter could be achieved “in complete legal certainty”.

In mid-September, the City reopened the Branly High School as a shelter for migrants. The decision was contested by the prefect of Bas-Rhin, Josiane Chevalier, for which “the state cannot evacuate the camp without a judicial decision”.

She also regrets that the city did not take action in July under its “administrative police” powers to prevent migrants from moving into the square.

• Administrative court orders evacuation

Faced with the lack of progress in this case, while temperatures are now negative, the prefect of Bas-Rhin occupied the administrative court at the end of November. It was about forcing the city to request the evacuation of the camp. In his request, the prefect emphasized that the presence of these migrants is a “disturbance of public order and peace”.

Last Friday, an administrative court in Strasbourg ordered the mayor to evacuate the camp. “Given the fact that the failure of the mayor of Strasbourg seriously violates human dignity, the judge in chambers orders him to evacuate the camp within three days,” the court statement reads.

Faced with this decision, Jeanne Barseghian, the mayor of Strasbourg, announced her decision to take the state to court over its “failure” to put people off the streets, launching a national appeal to “elected officials” and “associations” who want to rally to his cause.

That same day she finally made arrangements, by occupying the prefecture and requesting the assistance of the government services, to allow the evacuation of the premises this Tuesday morning.

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