Amnesty calls on authorities to stop evictions at Dale Farm Travellers site
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Amnesty International has called on UK authorities to stop the eviction of Travellers at Dale Farm in Essex that is planned for the end of the month.
The organisation said the move by Basildon Council would leave up to 86 Irish Traveller families homeless or without adequate alternative housing.
Jezerca Tigani, Deputy Director, Europe and Central Asia Programme at Amnesty International, said: “Up to 400 people could be left homeless as a result of the forced eviction which would require them to vacate their plots without an authorised site to which they can take their caravans.
“The authorities must ensure that their actions do not break international law. They should instead talk to the residents of Dale Farm and reach a negotiated solution.”
Dale Farm is the largest travellers’ site in England. Basildon has previously warned that if the travellers did not leave by 31 August, it would enter the land and remove all portable and fixed structures, hardcore and hard standings.
Amnesty said: “The proposed eviction would leave residents of Dale Farm without alternative culturally adequate accommodation and without access to essential services such as continuous medical treatment for residents with serious illnesses and schooling for the estimated 110 children living there.
“While some residents have been offered ‘bricks and mortar’ housing, many do not want this, and the council has not offered alternative housing that to all those residents facing eviction that also meets their cultural needs. In many cases residents fear they will be left homeless.”
The organisation also raised Irish Travellers’ concerns about wider discrimination against their community.
Describing a negotiated settlement as “a must”, Amnesty’s Tigani said: “The local authorities should work with those living at Dale Farm towards achieving it. This means genuine consultation, in a manner that seeks meaningful input from Travellers rather than a form-filling exercise, and, if an eviction is unavoidable, ensuring adequate alternative housing which allows the Irish Travellers to express their cultural identity.”