Settlement in Noisy-le-Grand, an eastern suburb of Paris, from where Roma were evicted in 2012. (Photo Amnesty International).
The European Roma Rights Centre and the French League for Human Rights on 14 January published in a joint statement that the French evictions of Roma people have more than doubled in the year 2013 as compared to the previous year. This happened in spite op the fact that president François Hollande before his election at the presidency had denounced the eviction policy of his predecessor Sarkozy.
The two organisations wrote:
French authorities forcibly evicted more than 21.537 Romani migrants in 2013, more than double the total for 2012. Law enforcement officers carried out 165 evictions affecting almost 19.380 people. There were 22 evictions due to fire, affecting 2.157 Roma.
The figures, gathered by the Human Rights League (LDH) and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), are not comprehensive. Many more Roma may have been affected. In comparison 9,404 Roma were forcibly evicted by authorities in 2012 and 8.455 in 2011, according to data collected by the same organisations.
Forced evictions continued almost everywhere without credible alternative housing solutions or social support. NGOs and various institutions (such as the French Ombudsman) have highlighted that government policy is ignored – an interministerial circular of 26 August 2012, which ordered local authorities to carry out a social assessment of Roma in any eviction - is rarely implemented and superficial at best. It often resembles a population census rather than a real and lasting attempt at social inclusion.
The eviction policy started in July 2010 under the former president Nicolas Sarkozy, after a policeman was killed in Grenoble in a fight and after irregularities in the Loire valley. Sarkozy at the time announced that 300 'illegal' camps would be cleared and Roma would be returned to the countries they came from. The measures elicited protests from the European Commission, the UN and the Vatican but continued nevertheless. The president evictions are mainly carried out in Isle de France (the vicinity of Paris), and more specifically in Seine Saint Denis. The present president, Hollande, spoke out against the evictions before he was elected, but it turns out that the policy was not only continued, but that the numbers even increased considerably since he took over.
The French League for Human Rights demanded in its declaration ''once again that the policy, which runs contrary to international and European treaties is stopped immediately''. It also pointed out that a policy should be applied instead in which people living in difficult circumstances like many of the Roma will be integrated. News reports often mention that the Roma who are evicted return after some time and start to live again in France under the same difficult circumstance as before, as in the countries where they come from, like Romania of Bulgaria, their position is even worse.