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Europe's Border Crisis

Paris to Open Refugee Camp as Migration Crisis Experiences ‘Deadliest Period’

The mayor of Paris on Tuesday announced plans to set up a refugee camp in the city's north, saying her country can no longer stand by as the Mediterranean "becomes a graveyard" for migrants.

Image: Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE / AFP - Getty Images

Mayor Anne Hidalgo detailed her plans as officials decried a deadly week in the Mediterranean in which an estimated 1,000 or more migrants perished making the journey from Africa to Europe.

Citing Germany as an example, Hidalgo stressed that France must step up its response given the "urgency" of the situation.

"Paris will not remain without taking responsibility while the Mediterranean becomes a graveyard for refugees," Hidalgo told a press conference. "I do not want to look at myself in the mirror in six months, three years, 10 years, or 15 years and say: 'This is Paris, you were mayor of Paris and with regards to this population, you are guilty of not helping people in danger."

Hidalgo said the city did not currently have facilities in place to treat the refugees "with dignity," but that a "humanitarian camp" is expected to open next month in accordance with U.N. standards.

The announcement comes after the International Organization issued a statement saying that at least 1,000 migrants died over the past week in the Mediterranean.

The agency said it had seen a "hopeful trend" for the first three weeks of May but that it had "obviously changed" its assessment following a series of shipwrecks and capsizes this week.

Image: Migrants being rescued at sea
Migrants being rescued at sea by the Italian Navy Marina Militare. Italian Navy Marina Militare / via EPA

"The past eight days marks one of the deadliest periods yet in the migration crisis," it said.

While the United Nations refugee agency earlier Tuesday said the toll from last week's shipwrecks and capsizes was at least 880, IOM said interviews with survivors put the number even higher.

The worst incident involved the capsize of a vessel off the coast of Italy in which 550 migrants were thought to have drowned.

IOM cataloged several other capsizes brought the total number of migrant arrivals this year to 204,311 and death toll to 2,443.

“This is a humanitarian emergency in the desert and at sea where thousands of people are dying," IOM's Federico Soda said in a statement.

Full Coverage: Europe's Border Crisis

Some 204,311 migrants have successfully made the journey across the Mediterranean this year, according to IOM figures.

700 Migrants Drowned and 14,000 Saved in Less Than a Week 1:05