PARISIAN police have been threatening the lives of homeless migrants by stealing the blankets they use to withstand the freezing cold temperatures in a bid to get them off the city's streets, according to a leading international aid agency.
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontières) claim police in the French capital engaged in "systematic violence" against migrants who were forced to sleep rough, as almost a dozen of them have been treated for dangerously low body-temperatures.
Expressing their anger, the leading charity tweeted: “The police should stop confiscating the covers of migrants sleeping on the streets of Paris.
“These unacceptable practices put the life of migrants in danger: teams from Doctors Without Borders had to look after eight people close to hypothermia."
The charity went on to accuse the police of harassing migrants, waking them up in the middle of the night, using tear gas to disperse them, and not allowing them to sit down as they queued for a place in northern Parisian shelter within the neighbourhood of La Chapelle.
The accusations came shortly after Frontex, a border agency, revealed more than 500,000 migrants illegally crossed European borders last year.
Bruno Le Roux, the French Interior Minister, defended the Parisian police operation and called for an end to police work being forced to endure a “national sport of questioning”.
Mr Le Roux added: “I absolutely do not share this vision. What the police force is doing today is providing shelter for vulnerable people.”
Although Paris launched its first humanitarian centre for migrants in November, weeks after the jungle camp was closed, Corinne Torre, a programme coordinator from MSF, condemned the police and told the Independent: “In the heart of winter, public powers should be able to provide shelter for all migrants, as a matter of urgency.
“Instead, the forces of order confiscate their covers or force them to stay standing in a waiting line for hours, in a ridiculous bid to remove this population in distress from public view. This denial of reality through the use of violence must stop.”
Since the Jungle camp was out down the government announced a zero tolerance policy to roadside shelters, enforced by the fencing off of many areas and a heightened police presence.
A Paris police source claimed his force was simply following orders to keep the city free of illegal camps.