Roma Camps Cleared After Salvini Calls for Census

Authorities in Rome cleared a Roma camp only weeks after the government’s far-right minister sparked widespread criticism for their anti-Roma comments.

On June 29, authorities swept the camp, flattening the temporary homes that provided shelter to around 450 people, nearly half of them children.

Reuters reported authorities saying the clearance was routine.

44-year-old resident, Zarko Hadzovic said while his family was sleeping, the police woke them up. They told Hadzovic he had to leave the container that belongs to the city. They offered him a shelter without his wife or children which he declined.

Earlier in June, the new far-right minister of the country, Matteo Salvini, called for a census to register Roma. He also called for the expulsion of non-citizen Italians.

Salvini even had the camps bulldozed. He then accused communities in the area of fostering crime.

Later, Salvini downplayed his comments. He said the census proposed to examine how they use European funds as well as investigate life in the camps.

The far-right minister tweeted out that his comments had double standards with them. He claimed that should the left propose to register Roma; all would be well. However, if he did, it would be considered racism.

Activists and rights groups lashed out at his tweet. A communications officer at European Roma Rights Centre said the evictions only made the spotlight because of Salvini’s comments.

Evidentally, Authorities often evicted Roma for years. They are looking to see if this announcement preludes an increased rate of evictions.

Rising Levels of Racist Speech in Roma

Those speaking against Salvini says the events occurring don’t happen in a bubble. They say there has been a rise of racist speech and violence against Roma for many years.

Estimations say the number of Roma in Italy is between 130,000 and 170,000. Only half of them hold Italian citizenship.

148 official camps in Italy are under the administration of local governments. Meanwhile, there are multiple informal camps located around the country.

Since his arrival at office, Salvini has created many controversies. He refused ships full of refugees and migrants. He also called for an increase in deportations.

Many civic groups and rights monitors sent an open letter to the Rome Mayor, Virginia Raggi. In it, they decried the city’s plans of evicting Roma communities saying it tramples on human rights.

ERRC says there are ethnically segregated camps on the outskirts of the cities and towns across the country. These camps lack essential municipal services.