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France Expels Roma despite outrage

France continues with the expulsion of Roma people into eastern Europe, despite a growing tide of outrage against this targeting of a particular ethnic group.

The French Minister of immigration Eric Besson has announced that around 250 Roma would be returned yesterday, and that around 800 Roma would be returned by the end of this month. 86 Roma had already been returned to Romania and Bulgaria on 19 August and around 130 the following day.

According to Al Jazeera, that brings the total number of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma deported from France so far this year to 8,313, against 7,875 expelled throughout the whole of 2009.

The Vatican has spoken out about it, the EU is reviewing whether what France is doing is legal, and today the UN’s anti-racism panel spoke out against France’s actions.

The expulsions come against a backdrop of increasing stigmatisation of Roma and travellers in France, with President Sarkozy reportedly referring to camps occupied by Roma as “sources of criminality”, helpfully branding whole communities as criminals. Roma already face considerable discrimination in France and elsewhere in Europe, and these kinds of comments are hardly going to make things better.

Meanwhile in Serbia, the authorities in the capital city Belgrade are preparing to carry out a series of forced evictions of Roma communities living in informal settlements. At least 70 homes in Vidikovac will be demolished and the families who live there could be left homeless as a result. In April this year, 35 families living in another informal settlement on the same street were evicted, without any provision of alternative accommodation or compensation. You can find out more and take action here.

Roma people are facing discrimination and abuse right across Europe, from France and Italy in the west to Serbia, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia further east. Look out for our report next week on the segregation of Roma children into ‘special needs’ classes, solely on the basis of their ethnicity.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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