An angry mob of residents in Marseille, France, has forced of a group of Roma people, commonly known as Gypsies, from an illegal encampment before burning it down.
Some 35 people, several Roma families, were forced from an empty lot near a housing estate in a suburb of the city where they had erected a camp several days prior, though police reported no injuries.
Local residents had previously complained to authorities that members of the camp had been responsible for burglaries in the area and had warned that they would take action into their own hands, France 24 reported.
The incident comes a little over a month after French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist administration lifted restrictions on work permits that affected the Roma people in France.
Most Roma come from Bulgaria and Romania, traveling in nomadic groups to make their living as day laborers or gathering scrap, while others toil as panhandlers or beggars, for which they are commonly stigmatized as a whole.
In 2007, the French government placed requirements on all migrants from Bulgaria and Romania to have work permits limiting them to certain industries, which was not required for citizens of other European countries. Employers also had to pay a $900 tax for hiring anyone without this permit.
Early into his administration, Hollande indicated that he would continue his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy’s policy of dismantling Roma camps, which was met with criticism from many of his fellow Socialist Party colleagues, though he emphasized that “alternative solutions” needed to be available, according to the New York Times.
Hollande’s government dismantled several Roma camps before lifting the work permit restrictions, displacing some 2,000 people, the Times reported.
Resentment of Roma is likely exacerbated by France’s grim economic condition. On Thursday, the labor ministry reported that the number of jobless in the country passed the 30 million mark for the first time in 13 years.
"These three million unemployed embody the failure of economic and social policies undertaken during the last few years," the ministry said in a statement.
To make matters worse, Hollande is set to introduce a new austerity program for 2013 in order to close a huge budget gap.
Ryan Villarreal reports on foreign affairs with a focus on Latin America. He also covers human rights and environmental issues worldwide....