Homeless charities warn of 'social cleansing' ahead of Paris Olympics


More than 70 French charities are urging organisers of the Paris Olympics to ensure the event does not endanger those living on the streets or in emergency shelters – warning that vulnerable people are being cleared out as the city prepares to host the 2024 Games.

"The social cleansing of the streets of Paris and the Ile-de-France region has already begun," said Paul Alauzy, a spokesperson for the campaign Flip Side of the Medal.

Launched this week by more than 70 charities working with homeless people, migrants and other vulnerable populations, the campaign aims to draw attention to the potential consequences of the Paris Olympics for the capital's poorest residents.

In an open letter to the organisers, published on Monday, the groups warn: "The Games will cause profound upheaval in the city, with a very negative impact on these people's lives: eviction of the homeless, fewer places in emergency shelters, closure of reception services, decrease in food distribution, and so on."

According to Alauzy, who helps coordinate health services for people on the street for medical charity Médecins du Monde, the effects are already being felt.

"We know of several places where various charities were helping out, from empty buildings that people squat in to get off the street, to shantytowns and migrant camps," he told RFI.

"These sites are being cleared out for demolition and the people living there are being sent out of Paris."

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo insisted that any relocations would be on a voluntary basis.

Read more on RFI English

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