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Fact-check: Did Paris requisition the military to clean up the capital's garbage-filled streets?

Uncollected garbage is piled up on a street in Paris
Uncollected garbage is piled up on a street in Paris Copyright Thomas Padilla/AP
Copyright Thomas Padilla/AP
By Sophia Khatsenkova
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In Paris, as piles of garbage been rising so does fake news around the strike against the pension reform.


Last week, up to 10,000 tonnes of rubbish littered the streets of the Parisian capital, generating a lot of fake news on social media.

Since the beginning of March, heaps of garbage have been piling up on the sidewalks of Paris.

Opposed to French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform, trash collectors of the capital are on strike and some are even blocking access to waste incinerators.

The latest misleading claim that’s gone viral a photo on Twitter posted on Friday. It shows three military men picking up a pile of trash in the Latin Quarter in the capital. 

This led to many social media users claiming the military had been requisitioned to pick up the garbage in Paris instead of the trash collectors.

But the French Gendarmerie were quick to deny this. In a tweet, the branch of the Armed Forces said it was a “localised initiative. They are simply Republican guards in uniform who are picking up waste for sanitary reasons and - above all - safety near their barracks. End of the story.”

The Gendarmerie explained there are barracks located near that street and the servicemen had to clear it for safety reasons due for safety reasons since many bins and piles of trash had been set on fire during protests these past few days. 

But can the government force military personnel to get rid of litter? It has happened twice and only in the southern city of Marseille, once in 1999 and then in 2010.

But this fake news highlights the standoff between the Ministry of the Interior and the town hall of Paris.

The Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin asked Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to requisition garbage collectors, which she refused, claiming to support the strike against the government's pension reform. 

But the Paris mayor lost the showdown and the Ministry said in a press release they requisitioned 674 garbage collectors in order to provide some sort of minimal service on Tuesday. 

According to the Paris city hall, the amount of uncollected garbage in Paris had dropped slightly from 10,000 tonnes down to 9,300 tonnes as of Monday night. 

Despite the order, protests are still ongoing in Paris and at incineration plants - notably in Ivry-sur-Seine which is the largest one in Europe. Its a clear message from the strikers: the garbage isn’t going anywhere just yet.

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