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Anderlecht clears Roma camp; Molenbeek lets theirs remain

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The commune of Anderlecht has sent in police to clear out a camp of some 30 Roma, including ten children and babies. Meanwhile in Molenbeek, which has a camp of its own, the municipal authorities have decided to take no action for the time being.

The camp on the Rue Prévinaire in Anderlecht received a visit from police earlier in the week to take stock of the conditions there. It was discovered the campers were living in makeshift tents and other hand-made structures, without electricity or running water. Later, the decision was taken to clear the camp out.

The situation is unfit for human habitation, especially for children,” said Anderlecht mayor Alain Kestemont. Some of the inhabitants had previously been living in a camp elsewhere in Anderlecht, on the Rue Dante, which was itself cleared.

The commune hopes the families will seek help from homeless agency Samusocial, Kestemont said. “But it’s very difficult. This is their way of life, and they’re not looking for help from anyone. We can offer them all sorts of assistance, but we can’t force them to take it.”

Meanwhile at the Porte de Ninove in Molenbeek, another camp has sprung up on a triangle of ground by the canal where construction giant Besix plans to build an apartment building – much to the displeasure of local residents. According to one local resident, the camp has been there since small beginnings two or three years ago, and numbers are growing, doubtless as a result of camps elsewhere being closed down by local authorities and police.

The camp now houses 20-30 Roma, all from the Hundeoara region of Romania, according to an expert from the non-profit Foyer, speaking to Bruzz. There, too, the group includes babies and small children. There, too, there is no electricity or running water.

But acting Molenbeek mayor Amet Gjanaj (photo) has no plans to clear the site for the time being.

Molenbeek is a warm commune, where everyone is welcome,” he said. “We’re not going to go into battle against people who are already so weak.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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