France dismantles Roma camps in fresh crackdown
French authorities yesterday dismantled two makeshift Roma camps housing 200 people, provoking claims the Socialistgovernment is pursuing the disputed policies of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The clearance of the two camps near the northern city of Lille came on the same day that around 240 Roma gypsies were flown from Lyon to Romania in the biggest repatriation of its kind since Francois Hollande succeeded Mr Sarkozy as President in May.
France drew a chorus of criticism in 2010 for rounding up hundreds of Roma gypsies from illegal camps and sending them back to Romania and Bulgaria in a crackdown ordered by Mr Sarkozy.
Roma rights groups had hoped for a change of policy under Mr Hollande’s Socialists but new Interior Minister Manuel Valls has promised to take a “firm” line on the issue, insisting that “unsanitary” camps will continue to be dismantled.
Two Roma encampments on state land near Lille were cleared yesterday, with around 150 people expelled from one camp and about 50 from another following complaints from residents.
“The tensions with (local residents) had become untenable,” said Maryvonne Girard, deputy mayor of the town of Villeneuve d’Ascq, near where one of the camps had been located.