French police clear out huge Roma camp

Police cleared out one of France’s biggest and oldest Roma camps, dismantling a sprawling network of makeshift shelters next to a Paris region highway under pouring rain.

The evacuation of around 200 people lasted about three hours.

After it was done, about 50 people milled about on the streets of La Corneuve, despite the town’s promises to give them either urgent housing or hotel vouchers.

Hugues Besancenot, the secretary general of the Seine-Saint-Denis region northeast of Paris, said around 60 women, children, and disabled camp residents received urgent housing, while the rest received hotel vouchers.

“They did nothing for us. They said there’s no place for me,” said Brindus Dan, who lived in the camp with his wife and three children, including a six-month-old baby.

Residents had six months to prepare for evacuation, ever since a court ordered it shut last February. Police gave a final warning on Tuesday, Besancenot said.

Thousands of Roma are estimated to live in France, and face routine discrimination and evacuations.

Their camps tend to lack water and electricity, and officials often cite sanitary reasons for dismantling them.


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