The largest camp settlement of gypsies in England is being evicted. Photo: Lisa Jarvis/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Thanks to reality television, there is an increased interest in English gypsies, also known as Travelers or pejoratively as Pikeys, and their elaborate weddings. The eviction of the largest single gypsy settlement in England has drawn the attention of Amnesty International and the United Nations.

Largest gypsy settlement in England told to move camp

A reality television series called “Big Fat Gypsy Weddings” originally shown on the BBC and re-broadcast in the United States has given a glimpse into the world of gypsies in the United Kingdom. The group being shown in the series aren’t Roma, or the Romanian ethnic group commonly referred to as gypsies, but a group known as Travelers. Travelers are of mostly Irish descent, and according to Wikipedia, Irish Travelers are recognized as an ethnic group by the United Kingdom. However, according to the Daily Mail, a dispute has led to the single largest Traveler settlement in Britain being told to move camp. The city council of Basildon, Essex, has ordered 100 families off the area called Dale Farm, prompting condemnations from Amnesty International and the United Nations.

400 people need new homes

The United Nations, according to the Irish Times, has stated that if the evictions aren’t handled correctly, the municipal government of Basildon could be committing “a grave breach of human rights.” The U.N. urges the eviction to be stopped until a new settling site is found. Amnesty International condemned the evictions, saying that forcing up to 400 people into homelessness is a breach of their rights under international law. Dale Farm is legally home to a number of the families residing there. They have been there since 2000, when a traveler bought the land and sold plots to other families. However, a growing number of other families have been showing up there and residing illegally on adjacent land, which is classified as “green belt” and therefore can’t be used for residential purposes. There are 60 to 100 families on non-approved lands that are being told to leave by Aug. 31 or be removed forcibly. Up to 1,000 people in total reside at the site, according to the Daily Mail, and cost of the removals is expected to reach 18 million pounds, or about $29.3 million.

Hostility against nomadic population

Travelers, according to The Guardian, are a small ethnic minority in the United Kingdom. All camping sites illegally occupied by them in 2010 were estimated to occupy less than a single square mile of land. However, some people find Travelers to be a nuisance. A resident of Basildon complained in a documentary about Dale Farm that the value of his house, adjacent to Dale Farm, had plummeted by 300,000 pounds since the Travelers moved into the area, according to The Telegraph. Some areas are considering establishing permanent sites for Travelers, such as the city of Maldon, according to the Maldon and Burnham Standard, and the Scottish city of Fife, according to The Courier. Travelers are said to face hostility as a minority in England.


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Wikipedia on Irish Travelers:

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