Paris will open its first internationally recognised refugee camp "in the coming weeks," its mayor announced yesterday, as she accused France and Europe of failing to "face up to the migrant crisis".
Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist, said that the camp, somewhere in the north of the capital, will serve as a day centre for migrants and refugees, but also offer more permanent accommodation. It will be up and running within a month to six weeks.
"Today, Europe is not facing up to the humanitarian crisis of these refugees. Nor is our own country," Ms Hidalgo told reporters in a surprise press conference.
"I hear people say, won't this act as a magnet? But I think of other countries, like Germany, where they have created conditions to welcome hundreds of thousands of migrants in dignified conditions.
"We must do the same by taking the full measure of this migrant flow that is flooding Europe," she added. "Paris will not sit idly by while the Mediterranean becomes a graveyard for refugees."
Her words came hours after the UN's refugee agency said that more than 2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, 880 in the past week alone.
So far this year, nearly 47,000 migrants have reached Italy, mostly from countries like Senegal, Nigeria and Gambia, who are classed as economic migrants, as well as many from Eritrea and Somalia, who are more likely to be viewed as asylum seekers.
The Dalai Lama said yesterday that Europe had accepted "too many" refugees, and they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries.
"Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country," he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Germany is Germany. There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult."
In Paris several makeshift camps have sprung up holding hundreds of people - such as in Jardins d'Eole near the Gare du Nord - but they are frequently dismantled by the authorities and the refugees offered temporary housing further afield.