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Italy: Mayor moves to demolish Roma Gypsy camps

Roma, 1.9.2010 22:27, (AKI)

Illegal Roma Gypsy camps which have sprung up in the Italian capital will be razed to the ground starting next week, Rome's conservative mayor Gianni Alemanno said on Wednesday.

"The camps will begin to be closed down this week and checks carried out. We are talking about numerous camps that are very small, often with only five to ten residents, and which are frequently in extremely dangerous locations," Alemanno told state television Rai1.

"We need to help children and women, but it is equally clear that people who have arrived in Rome must be able to support and house themselves adequately, otherwise they have to leave," Alemanno, a former neo-Fascist, said.

Authorities in neighbouring France dismantled 128 camps and - controversially - deported 977 Roma Gypsies to Romanian and Bulgaria in August on security grounds, according to the government.

"The state must be able to keep its territory under control," said Alemanno, adding that France's policy of Roma deportations was "unconvincing and weak".

"A European strategy is needed to control the rate of immigration," he said.

Earlier this year, Alemanno demolished Rome's largest gypsy camp, the Casilino 900, which had 600 residents. The sprawling camp had existed for 40 years and was inhabited by people from the former Yugoslavia, as well as Italian gypsies.

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