London-based rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday criticized France for forcefully evicting about 200 members of the Roma community from an informal settlement on the outskirts of Paris. The group denounced the move as "shameful and callous."
Amnesty said French police evicted around 230 people early on Wednesday from their huts and caravans in Ris-Orangis on the outskirts of Paris, citing public health and safety concerns. The move was the latest in a renewed wave of forced evictions of Roma across France over the past few weeks.
"Evicting hundreds of people without offering any adequate alternative housing or support is a shameful and callous action that totally ignores France's international human rights obligations," said Marek Marczynski, Europe and Central Asia Program Deputy Director.
Amnesty said the Roma community in Ris-Orangis was given only a 24-hour notice to leave the site, despite not being offered any alternative housing solution.
According to reports, only 38 had previously been offered any assistance with accommodation or employment. Citing local activists, Amnesty said Wednesday that the only alternative emergency accommodation offered required families to be separated, which the residents refused to accept.
"It defies logic that local authorities in France continue to forcibly evict Roma out of so-called concern for their health and safety, when the people evicted inevitably suffer even worse conditions after being moved on. Many of them are in fact made homeless. The French government must put its house in order, and stop these forced evictions entirely," Marczynski added.
The Roma community in France consists of hundreds of thousands of Gypsies living in the country as part of long-established communities, as well as recent immigrants, mainly from Romania and Bulgaria.
by RTT Staff Writer
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