The building has been occupied by migrants for nine months already, but the prefecture is opposing the decision taken by the District Court of Nantes, which had given the green light to move the inhabitants, reported French daily Le Figaro.
The diocese of Nantes, the owner of the premises, had resorted to a summons to demand the evacuation of the migrants.
“We first tried to negotiate with the support group, to find relocation solutions. But the situation deteriorated so much that it pushed us to ask for the evacuation,” explained Xavier Brunier, delegate of the bishop for solidarity.
Indeed, the gym is is not suitable for housing people at all. It has no shower, no heating, dozens of tents, a leaking ceiling, loose insulating panels, too few toilets and a terrible smell.
In addition, there have been registered cases of tuberculosis present and frequent fights.
This situation nevertheless has not moved the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique to proceed with the evacuation as authorized by the court.
“The uncontrolled increase in the population present and the lack of management of the site […] resulted in the evacuation order and accommodation of such a large number of people being no longer conceivable and a source of disturbance to the population,” noted the communication service of the administration.
According to le Figaro, some 500 to 600 migrants arrive every month in the region, including 80 percent in the metropolis of Nantes.
Moreover, the number of asylum seekers entering the EU has risen compared to the previous year. Between January and the end of April this year, some 206 500 people submitted an initial application, according to the EU asylum authority EASO. In 2018 there were 179 000 applications in the same period.
The increase is largely due to citizens of states that are allowed to enter the Schengen zone without any visa. Every fourth asylum application is currently from this group of people.
Other nationalities represented in the figures are Venezuelan, Colombian, Albanian and Georgian. Venezuela’s asylum applications rose by 121 percent to 14 257, and Colombia’s 156 percent to 8 097, according to the Funke-Mediengruppe.
But asylum seekers from Afghanistan also continue to arrive in large numbers. Some 14 042 initial applications represent an increase of 36 percent. By contrast, asylum applications from Syria have declined.
The current figures are an increase of 15 percent.