Landowner calls for Roma camp evacuation

A group of Roma people camping on a desolate site on the outskirts of Oslo must evacuate the area or face eviction, according to one of the owners of the land.

Landowner calls for Roma camp evacuation
Oslo's Lutheran bishop, Ole Christian Kvarme, seen here holding a rose, paid a visit to the Årvoll camp on Wednesday (Photo: Vegard Grøtt/Scanpix).

Businessman Albert Kr. Hæhre has expressed concern over the growing number of people moving to the site, which has become a national focal point for tensions surrounding the country’s Roma population.

Hæhre has found himself at complete odds with co-landowner Vanessa Quintavalle, who invited the Roma travellers to move to the Årvoll site after they were asked to leave a makeshift camp outside a city church.

In a letter to Quintavalle, Hæhre said the board of the firm he chairs, Årvoll Eiendom As, will assume control of the situation unless a plan for an evacuation of the site is presented to the local authorities by 10am on Friday, according to a report on the Byggeindustrien website.

Officials from the Bjerke district conducted a new examination of the site on Thursday and found that the number of tents had risen to 27, with around 30 cars parked in the area.

“As of today the conditions do not demand a closure of the area, but the district is nevertheless concerned by the growing number of people staying at the camp,” said district chief Kristin Enstad.

A group of neighbours meanwhile sent a letter to Hæhre in which they threatened to press charges if the camp is not shut down within three days, newspaper VG reports.

“We don’t wish the Roma people any harm, but a small neighbourhood cannot solve a national problem alone,” said Hege Almerud, a resident who has launched a Facebook group on behalf of neighbours opposed to the camp.

Residents have also called the police to ask them to stop people driving through the area.

"We’re worn out, and all of this runs counter to people’s sense of justice. We’re the ones stuck in the mess between the camp, the people who are calling us racists, and the racists who are spoiling for a fight at the camp,” said Almerud.

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Roma beggars not run by crime groups: report

There is no evidence that Romanian beggars in northern Europe are managed by organised crime groups, according to a new report from Norwegian social research foundation Fafo.

Roma beggars not run by crime groups: report
Gina Ionescu, a Roma woman, begging in Oslo in 2013. Photo: Marte Christensen/NTB Scanpix
Fafo interviewed 1,269 homeless Romanians in Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen last summer without finding any signs of criminal third parties. 
“We’re very certain that the beggars are not in any way part of organised crime,” Ann Britt Druve, one of the researchers behind the study. “They know each other and they travel in family networks and community networks. It’s not being organised by any third party.” 
As well as interviewing homeless Romanians on the streets with a set questionnaire, Fafo also arranged in-depth qualitative interviews, and visited Romania to carry out field surveys. 
“We don’t think that all of them would have been able to deceive us to such an extent,” Druve said. 
The Romanians, most of whom were ethnic Roma, normally travelled to Scandinavia in minibuses, often borrowing the money to finance their journey, either from family or from the minibus drivers. 
They typically earned around 200 Norwegian kroner each day, saving about half of that to send home to Romania. 
“Their families in Romania are extremely poor so this can make a lot of difference,” she said. 
It was not, however, enough money to attract the interest of organised crime groups, she believed. 
“This is not enough for a criminal network. It’s not worth the effort.” 
Drive started the interviews in Oslo early last summmer, before moving on to Stockholm, and finishing in Copenhagen in the autumn.