Italian Roma offered generous incentives to return to Romania
The project is being run by the NGO Avsi, with 13 million euros of funding from the Italian Interior Ministry. Roma families will be offered 1,500 euros to cover travelling expenses and then 200 euros a month for a period of two years. Money will also be made available to help Roma develop their homes, get into employment and assist with their children’s education.
Of the 200 families living at the Triboniano camp near Milan, around 40 have already applied to the scheme.
As part of the conditions of the grant, participants must give an address in Romania that they will return to, ensure their children attend school and provide assurance that they will not leave their jobs after receiving professional training.
Last summer, the French government was offering 300 euros to Roma who voluntarily agreed to return to their home countries of Romania and Bulgaria.
However, many of the Roma deported from France ended up returning because of the free-movement of persons between EU countries, which include Bulgaria and Romania. It is likely that we will see something similar with the measures being undertaken by Avsi, with experts worried that Roma from Eastern European countries will head to Italy just to receive the financial incentives for repatriation.
In any case, this does not solve the issue of integrating Roma into mainstream European society. The programme may offer some Roma more options with education and employment but rather than let Romania deal with Roma from Italy, the Italian authorities should focus on establishing their own long-term strategies for the social assimilation of Roma and tackling the discrimination that they face.
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