France has defied the storm of criticism and continued to dismantle Roma camps around the country. In Bobigny, north of Paris, 30 Romanian and Bulgarian nationals were forcibly evicted from their makeshift homes where they’d lived for two years. Human rights’ groups, religious leaders and even government ministers have condemned the expulsions, saying President Sarkozy is just trying to boost his flagging ratings.
“This destruction is just revolting; even animals are treated better,” said Ericka Maury-Lascoux from Bobigny’s pro-Roma Association.
The deportees are offered money to return to their homeland – 300 euros per adult, 100 per child – but many are simply expected to turn around and make the journey back to France.
“Here it’s good, here we can earn money,” said one man. “In Romania, we do not earn money, we can’t work in Romania, so staying in Romania is not the answer. Here, things are better, but there are no houses so what can we do?”
He and the other people expelled from the camp have been temporarily put up in a local hotel, but even that has sparked a row. Bobigny officials say the Roma are a national problem, so the state should pay the bills.