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French government reassessing return aid for Roma

media The French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls (left) and the Minister for European Affairs, Bernard Cazeneuve (right) discussing the Roma population with Romanian officials. Reuters/Bogdan Cristel

The French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, says his government will reassess the financial aid given to Roma people to help them return to their homeland.

“We are going to work on the question of return assistance,” Valls told Romanian senators during a visit to Romania.

He conceded that the financial aid has “undoubtedly a number of adverse effects,” without going into details.

Valls and the French Minister for European Affairs, Bernard Cazeneuve, are meeting Romanian authorities in Bucharest to discuss ways to help Romania better integrate its Roma population, the largest in Europe.

France gives 300 euros per adult and 100 euros per child for each Roma traveller who voluntarily returns to their homeland, notably Romania or Bulgaria.

However, rights groups say the measures are expensive and ineffective, as people could easily buy a return bus ticket to France once they go back.

According to the non-governmental organisation Doctors of the World, the number of Roma in France – estimated between 15,000 to 20,000 – stays constant because those expelled return systematically.

“It is just money for holidays [and] lost money for the French government,” says Danut Dumitru from the non-governmental organisation, Roma Education Fund, based in Hungary.

In recent weeks, rights groups have criticised French authorities' decision to forcibly remove thousands of Roma from temporary camps around the country.

 

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