Roma, children who were evicted from a makeshift camp in Villeneuve d'Ascq on August 9, sit in a shelter in Hellemmes near Lille, northern France, on August 21, 2012. (File photo)
European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor, says repatriation of Roma from France is no solution to help one of Europe's most discriminated minorities.
"The [European] commission stood up three years ago against the discriminating practice of French authorities and we also said that it is not a solution and it can in fact be counterproductive to repatriate Roma people in France," Andor said on Tuesday.
He noted that some French local governments are also using EU funds to help create establishments "reasonably suitable for housing Roma people", and help them integrate into the labour market and get their children into schools.
This is while the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center says the establishments or "insertion villages" only further segregate Roma community from the rest of the French society, and strengthen current Roma "ghettos."
Meanwhile, European Commission Vice President and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has called on the European countries to ensure education for Roma children so that the problems related to the Roma people would not re-emerge in the next ten years.
Speaking on France Info news radio station on Tuesday, Reding said more needs to be done to prevent what she calls “a lost generation”.
“If we don’t educate these children, if we don’t help them find a normal job, they will become another lost generation. In 10 years, we may see the same problems we saw this summer with the dismantling of illegal camps. We don’t want to see this,” she said.
“Our generation has the responsibility to ensure that, instead of illegal camps, there are normal houses for these people; that girls don’t have children at 12 years old, and that children go to school,” Reding pointed out.
There are believed to be around 5,000 to 7,000 Roma children in France, but very few of them go to school regularly.
Human rights groups have accused French President Francois Hollande of taking the same harsh tack as his center-right predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy against Romas.
Sarkozy sparked an international outcry in 2010 with a highly publicized campaign of Roma expulsions.