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Shantytowns are a daily reality in France for the 16,000 men, women and children, mostly from Eastern Europe’s persecuted Roma minority, who call 570 makeshift slums home. On France’s Atlantic Coast, the Loire-Atlantique department, with its 40-odd “illegal encampments” in and around Nantes, contains the most shanty dwellers. In 2017, the French State and the 24 municipalities of greater Nantes devised a plan to develop plots of land with a view to replacing the shantytowns. In the meantime, NGOs and neighbourhood collectives are lending support to the resident families and keeping lines of contact open with a society that tends to forget them.
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