Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Rome clears Europe’s largest gypsy camp
January 20th, 2010 - 2:23 pm ICT by IANS -

Rome, Jan 20 (IANS/AKI)

Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno was accused of discrimination when he began clearing out Europe’s largest gypsy camp in the Italian capital. The move was supervised by the Red Cross which said it would transfer the first 50 gypsies from the 40-year-old camp, Casalino 900, to another location in Rome.
“This is a great challenge, but in the end the law will win,” said Alemanno, who was there to supervise the relocation.

Tuesday’s move was the first stage of a move to relocate the illegal camp’s 600 residents by the end of February.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government has come under fire for its hard-line stance regarding immigrants and gypsies.

Critics of the unauthorised camp said its residents live illegally and in squalor.

But the Communita di Sant’Egidio, a Catholic charity organisation, said the forced evictions will uproot families from a place that is suitable for living.

“There’s no true reason for the transfer. These families could have stayed in the camp,” the Rome-based organisation said in a statement.

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, last year expressed “serious concerns” about Italy’s policies towards its gypsy minority, who he said faced “a persistent climate of intolerance”.

Rome has seven authorised gypsy camps.

There are an estimated 160,000 gypsies in Italy, nearly half of whom were born in Italy and have Italian citizenship. Others come from European Union countries such as Romania and the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

The people transferred Tuesday were of Kosovan, Serbian and Macedonian nationalities.


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