Citing sanitary concerns, French police on Monday cleared a sprawling slum-like camp along disused railroad tracks on the edge of Paris that housed hundreds of Roma.
Activist groups say some 400 people had been living in makeshift shelters at the site, known as La Petite Ceinture, but many had left before police moved in. The remaining residents left in a calm atmosphere Wednesday morning.
Thousands of Roma, also known as Gypsies, live in shantytowns around France, often without water or electricity. They routinely face discrimination and evacuations.
Between 10 and 12 million Roma are estimated to live in Europe, the Council of Europe notes. “They are amongst the most deprived of all communities, facing daily discrimination and racial insults, living in extreme poverty and exclusion from the normal life that other people take for granted — going to school, seeing the doctor, applying for a job or having decent housing,” the Council says.
A 2010 pledge by the European Union to improve Roma’s living conditions in member countries has gone ignored by subsequent administrations, advocates say.
Amnesty International urged authorities in Paris to find a lasting housing solution and said those expelled would become homeless in mid-winter — or just build a new camp elsewhere. The rights group has routinely criticized countries for not providing safe shelter to Roma or abiding by international human rights law in their treatment of Roma.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press