Police in France have dismantled a Roma camp near the capital, Paris, expelling 70 people, including 19 children, from their shelter. Local police moved in the encampment in the suburb of Evry early Monday in a bid to remove the people from the camp, following local mayor Francis Chouat’s expulsion order over concerns about ‘safety and public health.’ The move is expected to reignite criticism over handling of the ethnic minority by the French socialist government. French police have recently evacuated hundreds of Roma from makeshift camps and repatriated dozens to Romania. On August 9, French authorities dismantled two makeshift camps housing 200 people near Lille and flew 240 Roma gypsies from Lyon to Romania. The eviction is regarded as the biggest repatriation of its kind since President François Hollande took office. Interior Minister Manuel Valls, however, defended the recent camp evacuation in Evry, claiming that sanitary conditions in the settlement were unbearable. Some 15,000 Roma community members currently live in camps across France.
Human rights groups have called on the French government to stop the dismantling of the Roma camps unless alternative accommodation is arranged.The French government said last week that it would ease restrictions on the Roma migrants’ access to the jobs market, but added that it would continue with the evacuations. SAB/HJL