French media reported today that the authorities in Bordeaux have expelled around 350 squatters from their illegally inhabited homes. According to the available information, the majority of the people living in miserable conditions were Bulgarian citizens of Roma ethnicity.
The eviction operation took place late on 26 February on the premises of two buildings in the city of Bordeaux where the squatters lived illegally. Reports say that 120 of them have already been returned to their home country.
According to information from the prefecture of Gironde, about twenty were offered a hosting solution by the state, while 40 will be included in a programme providing help to people in difficulty of finding accommodation.
The online SudOuest.fr said that the people were living in extremely appalling conditions- among dirt and rats.
This is not the first time the French authorities choose the method of evictions when it comes to people of Romani ethnicity, in particular those coming from Bulgaria and Romania.
The situation was seen by French authorities as so complicated, that they have gathered last summer on a special meeting to discuss the issue. After the meeting, the French government decided to provide easier access to the country’s labour market for Bulgarian and Romanian workers of Roma ethnicity.
However, the French also made clear that they will continue the policy of shutting down illegal Roma camps around the country.
In November 2012, the European Union (EU) was urged by non-governmental human rights organisations to monitor France’s compliance with its obligations on freedom of movement under EU law. Moreover, the international groups said that the EU should ensure that the new French government strategy for the inclusion of Roma includes specific measures to combat discrimination against Roma and to guarantee Roma participation in the development and implementation of the strategy.
In relation to the reports of Roma evictions in Bordeaux, the Amnesty International EU office expressed concern about whether such evictions constituted forced evictions, which are prohibited under international human rights law. The organisation also said that it is unclear whether the evicted communities in Bordeaux were duly informed ahead of the evictions, genuinely consulted on alternative housing options and given appropriate legal avenues to challenge any eviction orders.