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Paris mayor to open a refugee camp in French capital within a month: Report

Paris residents appear hotly divided on the scheme which is set to be the first town hall approved camp to open in French capital
Anne Hidalgo with Iranian-French photographer Reza (R) during an exhibition showing pictures of refugees (AFP)

The mayor of Paris has said that she plans to open a refugee camp in the French capital which would help to replace makeshift camps that are habitually closed down for health reasons. 

City authorities are "assessing different sites" for their suitability to create a camp "as soon as possible", Mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters on Tuesday while stressing that the new centre "would conform to UN regulations". 

The camp is expected to be housed somewhere in northern Paris and could open within a month, the Telegraph reported.

It will have space for hundreds of families and would provide longer-term accommodation as well as services like day care, she said. 

According to Hidalgo, the new Paris camp would be inspired by the one created at Grande-Synthe in northern France. The camp was built to take in refugees from the so-called Jungle in the northern port city of Calais but has proved controversial, with some people refusing to abandon the makeshift camp and continuing to try to illegally cross the English Channel despite the grave danger. 

"Today, Europe is not facing up to the humanitarian crisis of these refugees. Nor is our own country," she said. 

"Paris will not stand by and do nothing as the Mediterranean becomes a graveyard of refugees."

More than 2,500 people have died trying to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2016, the UN said Tuesday, a sharp jump from the same period last year.

At the same time, around 204,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to the continent since January, a figure that has also climbed acutely.

In the past week alone, at least 880 people have died in a series of shipwrecks, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said, citing information from survivors who made it to Italy.

Esher Benbassa, a Green Party MP, stressed that "time was running out" to come up with solutions. 

Transaltion: Let’s hope that refugees will have decent housing in Paris. Time is running out!

But others have been less kind, with some residents taking to social media to show their disdain for the plan. 

Translation: Hidalgo, who is always travelling and never working, announces the opening of a #migrants’ camp in the middle of Paris. Worst mayor of history

Translation: Migrants camp in the middle of Paris. Should we send #Hidalgo in a psychiatric hospital?