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Four more Roma camps cleared in Paris

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17:57 CEST+02:00
French authorities on Thursday cleared four Roma migrant camps that housed up to 350 people in outlying areas of Paris.

Three camps dismantled in the eastern suburbs of Champs-sur-Marne, Chelles and Bussy-Saint-Georges had "extremely limited hygiene and sanitary conditions for both the inhabitants and those living around them," the prefecture said in a statement.

Locals officials said the three camps housed up to 150 people.

Romain Gerland, an official from a non-government group that had in the past helped those evicted from the camp at Champs-sur-Marne said many of them "suffered from serious health problems."

Another camp was cleared near Saint-Ouen-l'Aumone, a northwestern suburb. 

It was thought to accommodate about 200 people.

The moves were the latest in a government-backed drive to get an estimated 15,000 Roma living in makeshift, often illegal camps across France to return to their countries of origin, mainly Romania and Bulgaria.

The French policy of closing migrant camps and repatriating the Roma with a €300 incentive has been widely criticised.

Critics have said the Roma will use the money Paris will give them to buy bus tickets back to France.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recently expressed concern over France's forced closures of Roma camps.

Romania, one of the two poorest countries in the European Union, has the biggest Roma minority in Europe: 620,000 according to the latest official census; more than two million according to local rights groups.

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