Roma deportations condemned as 'xenophobic'

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Roma deportations condemned as 'xenophobic'

Roma deportations condemned as 'xenophobic'
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The French government is facing mounting criticism over plans to deport Roma migrants.

The first group of 79 people is due to be flown back to Romania on Thursday after President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the dismantling of 300 illegal traveller camps as part of a broader campaign to crackdown on crime.

The Roma say they are being made scapegoats and there is nothing for them to go back to.

Neoloi Vichente who is awaiting repatriation said: “I do not want to return to Romania. There are no houses, no work. There are many problems in Romania.”

Some 700 Roma face expulsion by the end of the month on commercial flights to Bucharest chartered by the French government.

Each adult is being given 300 euros plus 100 euros for every child they take with them and they will be biometrically tested to make sure they do not return and claim twice.

French Minister of Immigration Eric Besson said:
“It (the biometric test) will help to ensure that those who have already received aid will not get it a second time.”

Reporter’s question: “But they will return to France?”

“They may well return to France because it is within the law but they will not have a place to park (their caravans) illegally, nor will they receive any more humanitarian aid assistance to return voluntarily,” Besson replied.

The Romanian government has denounced the deportations as xenophobic and one French ruling UMP party MP has compared the policy to the rounding up of Jews during the Second World War.

The European Commission says it is monitoring the situation to ensure strict EU rules on freedom of movement are not broken.