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France prepares (again) to round up and deport 28 000 Romani people back to Romania

Paris, 14.6.2011 17:27, (ROMEA)

France intends to return as many as 28 000 allegedly illegal immigrants, most of them Romani people, back to Romania this year. French Interior Minister Claude Guéant announced the plan in an interview published Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche. Guéant says that 80 % of street theft is Paris is being committed by minors who represent an enormous problem for the French authorities.

Guéant wants to initiate a campaign in collaboration with the Romanian authorities against so-called "Romanian crime". He blamed the previous socialist government for making it possible for 8 000 allegedly illegal immigrants to travel into France annually.

Last summer French authorities began returning mostly Romanian Romani people to their native country and destroying their illegal camps near large cities. The move caused tensions between the European Commission and Pairs when Brussels warned the French they were not respecting EU rules on the free movement of persons. At the time Paris argued that the returns did not meet the definition of expulsions.

Paris has also repeatedly given those who voluntarily return to their native countries payments of EUR 300 per adult and EUR 100 per child to resettle back home. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said last September that the French approach gave the impression that citizens of an EU member state who were also members of an ethnic minority were being targeted for expulsion.

An estimated 10 - 12 million Romani people live in the EU, which has a total population of roughly half a billion people. The Romani minority is the EU's largest. According to official data, 500 000 Romani people reside in Romania, which has a total population of 22 million. However, the official number is said to be a significant underestimate and is generally assumed to be three times larger in reality.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Press Agency, Lidovky.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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