Police have cleared a makeshift camp along disused railway tracks on the edge of Paris that was home to hundreds of Roma people, citing sanitary concerns. Around 400 people had been living in shacks at the camp along the Petite Ceinture, a former railway line that once encircled the French capital, since the summer of 2015. Many of the camp's residents had left in anticipation of the police action; those who remained left calmly as they were evicted.

Roma camp Paris
Gendarmes stand guard as people are evacuated from a Roma camp installed along La Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railway line in ParisGonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Roma camp Paris
French gendarmes patrol the area as people are evacuated from a camp along La Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railway line in ParisGonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Roma camp Paris
Dominique Faget/AFP
Roma camp Paris
A woman holds her child as they are evacuated from the campGonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Roma camp Paris
A woman closes her suitcase as she prepares to leave the Petite Ceinture campDominique Faget/AFP
Roma camp Paris
A woman is helped to board a bus as she prepares to leave the campDominique Faget/AFP

The deputy prefect of police headquarters, Yann Drouet, said that the evacuation was necessary due to precarious conditions of the camp. "We are here to enforce a decision made by the District Court of Paris, we are being assisted by a bailiff for the dismantling of the camp, a camp that is particularly dangerous with significant health risks, a level of squalor as you have seen and a high risk of fire. So this evacuation was necessary as much for the implementation of the court's decision as for the protection of people," he said.

Drouet said the operation was well prepared and that local authorities and NGOs would help support and accommodate the expelled Roma people: "This is not an operation that has been conducted out of the blue, there have been many weeks of preparation with several social investigations, several health investigations, alternative proposals made to the people concerned."

Amnesty International urged city authorities to find a lasting housing solution and said those expelled would become homeless in midwinter – or just build a new camp elsewhere. The site, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, belongs to national railway authority SNCF, which declined to comment. Thousands of Roma people, also known as gypsies, live in shanty towns around France, often without water or electricity. They routinely face discrimination and evacuations.

Roma camp Paris
Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
Roma camp Paris
Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
Roma camp Paris
Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
Roma camp Paris
Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
Paris Roma
Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
Roma camp Paris
A man pushes his bicycle as people are evacuated from a Roma camp installed along La Petite CeintureGonzalo Fuentes/Reuters