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French police resume dismantling Roma camps

Dozens of Roma families were expelled from an illegal camp outside Paris early Monday before bulldozers moved in to destroy their homes. Socialist lawmakers decided last week to follow their conservative predecessors in removing the camps.


AFP - Police on Monday dismantled a Roma encampment near Paris, sweeping 70 people, including 19 children, onto the streets in a move likely to reignite criticism of France's handling of the ethnic minority.

Police in the suburb of Evry moved in at dawn to clear the camp following an expulsion order issued by local mayor Francis Chouat on safety and public health grounds.

The camp was deemed unsafe as it was located on spare land close to a commuter rail line.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has been severely criticised for sanctioning the clearance of several Roma camps since the new Socialist government came to power, described sanitary conditions in the Evry settlement as "unbearable."

An estimated 15,000 ethnic Roma, mostly originating from Bulgaria and Romania, currently live in makeshift camps across France.

The government moved last week to appease critics of its policy by announcing that it would ease restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants' access to the jobs market.

But it said the dismantling of camps would continue, despite calls from some ministers and human rights groups for them to be stopped unless alternative accommodation was arranged first.

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