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France Destroys Large Roma Camp Near Paris

  • VOA News

A Roma, also known as a Gypsy, argues with a French policeman as police dismantle the sprawling Roma camp in La Courneuve, on the outskirts of Paris, Aug. 27, 2015.

A Roma, also known as a Gypsy, argues with a French policeman as police dismantle the sprawling Roma camp in La Courneuve, on the outskirts of Paris, Aug. 27, 2015.

French police Thursday dismantled one of country's biggest and oldest Roma camps, north of Paris, promising to find shelter for all evacuees.

As many as 300 men, women and children were ordered to pack up and move out. Many of the women are pregnant or caring for babies.

The evacuation was peaceful, even if some of the residents complained that they are now homeless. Authorities gave out hotel vouchers to the most vulnerable residents and said they will help others find shelters.

A court ordered the camp in Seine-Saint-Denis closed down and destroyed.

"This camp started in 2009 and it is potentially hazardous," said a police official. "It's unsanitary, there's no water...the electricity there is provided by generators, which pose a fire hazard."

Pro-Roma groups accuse the government of doing nothing to help Roma families. They say destroying the camp takes the Roma far from their schools, jobs and health care facilities.

Roma complain they are often the target of discrimination. They say they are unjustly accused of crimes and denied job and educational opportunities in cities across Europe.

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