France: Thousands of Roma 'made homeless' in 2016
Feb.8, Paris: More than 10,000 Roma were forcibly evicted by French authorities last year, with most ejections taking place during the cold winter months, according to a new report.
The European Roma Rights Centre and the Ligue des droits de L'Homme (Human Rights League of France) said on Tuesday that at least 60 percent of Romani families in the country were forced to leave their dwellings.
The majority of the recorded evictions took place without a court decision, and in most cases adequate alternative accommodation was not offered to those made homeless, the groups said in a joint report.
"France's policy of ethnically targeted evictions creates cycles of repeat evictions and forced removals," the report said.
"It is also a significant squandering of financial and administrative resources. It is not only a morally bankrupt strategy, but one that is not in the best interests of taxpayers whose contributions could far better be deployed to invest in social assessments and sustainable solutions for housing."
Almost 3,000 Roma were forced from their camps between October and December, a 17 percent increase from the previous quarter.
"Many Roma were evicted multiple times in 2016," the report said. "This unsustainable practice only worsens deep poverty and neglects the underlying housing problems."
Between 15,000 and 17,000 Roma live in poor conditions with little access to water and electricity in makeshift, illegal camps across France, according to the country's national census and NGOs.
Authorities often cite sanitary reasons for dismantling the camps.
Catrinel Motoc, anti-discrimination campaigner for Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera: "We have repeatedly called on the French authorities ... to put an end to forced evictions and take a series of measures that would enable Roma to benefit from their right to adequate housing and not to be discriminated, as guaranteed by numerous international and regional human rights obligations that France ratified."
In June 2016, several organisations and agencies - including the Council of Europe and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - warned local authorities across the continent to provide Roma with "sustainable" housing, saying that children were at particular risk of trauma and social isolation because of evictions.
The Oslo Times International News Network