Sunday, April 24, 2011
Gypsies Protest Rome’s Shelter Plan
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 23, 2011
ROME (AP) —
About 150 Gypsies, whose camp had been dismantled, took refuge in one of this city’s ancient basilicas, creating a standoff on Saturday with city officials.
Italy is struggling to deal with hundreds of Roma, as Gypsies are often called, who live in illegal trailer settlements on Rome’s outskirts. In February, four children died in their sleep as a fire tore through a shack in an illegal camp, prompting the mayor to promise that the camps would be torn down and safer ones built.
The Gypsies entered the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Friday to protest city plans to send women and children, but not men, to shelters, temporarily breaking up families.
City hall has said that families would be reunited in a Roma camp in a few weeks. The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, has declined to send the men to the shelters. “The solution cannot be, as is demanded by many Gypsy families and various association, that we offer an accommodation to these families,” he said.
Mr. Alemanno said that would send a signal of “indiscriminate acceptance” that might result in more homeless in the capital.
On Saturday, the Roman Catholic charity Caritas sent a truck full of crackers, biscuits and water to the basilica. As night fell, charity groups were preparing to send tents in case any Roma who had left to procure food or work were not allowed back in.
A version of this article appeared in print on April 24, 2011, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Gypsies Protest Rome’s Shelter Plan..
Posted by Morgan at 10:47 AM