Amnesty urges France to stop evicting Roma

Nov. 29, 2012 at 3:49 PM

PARIS, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- France continues to evict Roma from the make-shift camps where many live without providing alternative housing and services, Amnesty International said.

The group released a report, "Chased Away," describing evictions in the Ile-de-France, the Paris area.

The Roma or Romani, popularly known as gypsies, are descended from people who migrated from India to the Middle East and Europe, especially central and eastern Europe, and have their own language. They have been victims of centuries of racial prejudice and were targeted for extermination by the Nazis during World War II.

About 15,000 Roma who have emigrated from Romania and Bulgaria now live in France. Because they are citizens of European Union countries, they can be expelled from France after three months if they are not working or going to school but are free to return.

Amnesty International said Thursday that guidelines on closing down Roma camps were released in August by the French government. But they are not binding on local officials or police.

"Forced out of one informal settlement after another they end up in ever poorer housing conditions, forced to sleep on the streets and in tents until they manage to build another makeshift home," John Dalhuisen, Amnesty's coordinator for central and western Europe, said. "During forced evictions, they often lose their belongings, identity papers and medical records; in many cases schooling is disrupted and medical treatment is interrupted, while ties to local employment and support networks are severed. Yet, under French law they do not receive adequate reparation."

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