U.N. slams France for Roma evictions

Aug. 30, 2012 at 12:49 PM

NEW YORK, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- U.N. officials accused the French government of discrimination after hundreds of Roma immigrants were kicked out of several temporary camps this week.

In the latest of several group evictions since the Socialist government was elected in June, four camps inhabited by about 750 Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants were cleared and leveled beginning Monday, Radio France Internationale reported.

The evictions "are inevitably fuelling the already worrying climate of hostility against Roma in France," Mutuma Ruteere, the U.N. special rapporteur on racism, said in a joint statement with other rapporteurs.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls has said clearing the camps was necessary because they were health hazards and because they were dangerously close to rail lines and roads.

Another U.N. official, housing rapporteur Raquel Rolnik, countered that "few if any visible efforts are being developed to find alternative solutions for these communities."

The U.N. statement added that group expulsion is banned under international law.

About 600 Roma were evicted Wednesday from two camps near Paris. Most of the inhabitants had already left before police arrived at 7 a.m., having heard of the planned raid.

A camp near Lyon was cleared Tuesday.

The government says it wants to help the Roma find work. On Wednesday, it announced the scrapping of a tax on employing Romanian and Bulgarian citizens.

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