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France: Roma not reassured by job access moves

France: Roma not reassured by job access moves
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The future remains uncertain for Roma migrants in France despite government moves to ease restrictions on their access to the job market.

It is their right to stay at all that is worrying the 180 or so people living in one camp at Saint Priest near Lyon. Their settlement is illegal and could be cleared at any moment. The fear is that they might be put on a flight back to Eastern Europe.

Socialists now running France are to scrap a hefty tax employers have had to pay to hire Romanian or Bulgarian nationals. The list of jobs open to them will also be enlarged.

But work is not the problem, Roma rights activist Jean-Philippe told euronews, at the Saint Priest site. He fears the government will continue expulsions.

“As for clearing the camps, it has told us outright that that will go on,” he said.

A small boy asked our reporter: “Why do you want us out? You and the police. They want us out.”

“We did not have work in Romania, nothing to eat. It is very difficult,” a young Roma man explained.

A few kilometres away, dozens of Roma have pitched their tents in a park. They have nowhere else to go after being forced to leave a local building earlier this month.

“When you talk about giving people work and at the same time say you are clearing illegal camps, it is nonsense,” said Marie Higelin from the Secours Populaire charity which works with the Roma community.

“I don’t see how these poor people can be in this street one day, then in another…and then you tell them, go to work.”

Our reporter Farouk Atig says that easing job access to Roma people is viewed positively by the EU. Yet many action groups see no real announcement. For them, the problem lies elsewhere, especially since camp clearances are continuing. As a result, whole familes can be left to wander round places like a park in the suburbs of Lyon.

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