Roma baby denied burial by local mayor offered grave by neighbouring town

Refusal to provide a grave for the child is "humanly unthinkable"

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The Independent Online

A baby Roma girl who died over Christmas and was denied burial by her local mayor has been offered a grave in a nearby town.

The child is thought to have been just two months old when she died of apparent sudden infant death syndrome on Boxing Day, leaving behind her Roma parents who live in a camp south of Paris.

Local authorities in Champlan refused to allow them to bury their child, but a mayor from a nearby town has offered them an alternative site.

Mayor Richard Trinquier of Wissous told French news channel, BFM-TV: "I didn't hesitate a shadow of a second."

He described the local authorities’ refusal to provide a grave for the child as "humanly unthinkable".



According to BFM-TV, Champlan Mayor Christian Leclerc told press earlier this week that graves in his jurisdiction are reserved for taxpayers:

"We must manage the seats in each case. The concessions are granted at a nominal price and maintenance is expensive, so priority is given to those who pay their council tax. "

News that the child was refused burial in Champlan sparked outrage from humanitarian associations, particularly those who help France's approximately 20,000 Roma.

Marie-Helene Brelaud, of the Solidarity With Roma Families Association, said: "The parents told us this is racism. They were incredulous."

The infant's parents live in a camp lacking basic amenities such as running water, like many Roma in France.

Roma presence in the country has become a political issue. Last year a French MP avoided jail after he was caught on camera saying “Hitler maybe didn't kill enough of them” during an altercation with a Roma community.

Mass evictions and violence against Roma and their camps run high. In 2012, a camp of 200 people at La Courneuve, north of Paris, was burned down.

In February last year, an eight-year-old girl died when a shantytown in the nearby suburb of Bobigny was set ablaze.

Also last year, a 17-year-old Roma youth from the northern suburb of Pierrefitte-sur-Seine was beaten and left for dead in a supermarket trolley by a group of about 20 men from the nearby tower blocks.

Additional reporting by AP

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