France

Roma evicted from camp in Marseille

Reuters/Charles Platiau

French police on Tuesday rounded up more than 160 Roma, including children and babies, from a camp in Marseille, in a move which a human rights activist labelled "aggressive".

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Bernard Eynau of the Human Rights League said "There are two Roma camps left in Marseille. This one, which is old, houses children at school. Once more they will be split up and the children will not be able to go to school today."

About 150 police took part in the round-up, and there was no violence.

Last year, France was the subject of international criticism after the round-up of hundreds of Roma from illegal camps, many of whom were then sent back to their native countries of Romania and Bulgaria.

Some of the Roma evicted on Tuesday could be expelled to Romania or Bulgaria if they cannot show a means of supporting themselves in France, while others will be offered alternative housing.

The families were living in caravans and corrugated iron and wooden huts next to a railway line.

Bernard Eynaud accused the local authority of reneging on an August offer of a negotiated solution.

Sarkozy's UMP party has been accused of trying to outdo the far-right anti-immigrant National Front ahead of next year's presidential elections.

Earlier this month, Sarkozy's Interior minister Claude Gueant launched an offensive against what he called "Roma delinquency", saying that ten per cent of people brought before the justice system in Paris were Roma.
 

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