Christian charities have teamed up with the French government to bring in 500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees as part of their efforts to come up with an alternative to the deadly voyage that asylum seekers make across the Mediterranean Sea.
An Italy-based Catholic charity, the Community of Sant'Egidio, initiated the efforts among Christian groups to help resettle asylum seekers in Europe. On Tuesday, these groups signed an accord in Paris with the French government, calling for 500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon to be brought into France, the Catholic Herald details.
The Christian charities have already helped hundreds of refugees resettle in Italy. The movement has also seen children enrolled and has provided assistance to their refugee parents in terms of finding houses, jobs as well as language classes.
This time, the accord signed in France aims to prevent refugees from risking their lives crossing the sea illegally to seek asylum in another country.
As France prepares and makes room for a new set of 500 refugees, it is also planning to dismantle a large migrant camp in the northern coast after conflicts erupted at the site. Last week, the government announced that security forces would demolish the Grande-Synthe camp as soon as possible to restore public order, The Local reports.
Since France destroyed the "Jungle" camp near Calais in October, the population at the Grande-Synthe camp reached between 1,400 and 1,500. The announcement about destroying the camp has stirred anger among charities providing help to asylum seekers there.
Nevertheless, Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said during a French Senate hearing that they need to dismantle the camp, not just to re-establish public order but because they cannot "let things continue like this."
In November, a man was stabbed at the Grande-Synthe camp. Five other men were injured in a clash earlier this month.
Refugees and migrants have been flocking to the northern coast of France for more than 10 years now, but the government keeps on dismantling the camps in that area.