Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Rising into the ranks of Haute Couture

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A thin line between fact-checking and propaganda in Gaza social media coverage

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies cast light on dark history

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

57 000 little problems

Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: Living in Tel Aviv, under threat of rocket attack

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • US prepared to negotiate Gaza ceasefire, Obama says

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon appoints new Syria mediator

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

France

Condemned to wander, Roma seek sedentary lives

©

Text by Sarah LEDUC

Latest update : 2009-06-01

Despite Romania’s entry into the European Union, the Roma people are not wanted in several European countries. FRANCE 24’s Sarah Leduc reports from the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis.

The main expressway is their garden, the motorway their horizon. Ten Roma families have just settled in Saint-Denis, an impoverished suburb located around 10 kilometres north of Paris, in a camp set up by MDM, the French acronym for Médecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World.

 
The camp was set up overnight between May 26 and 27.

After being forced to quit their former dwellings on May 23, when a fire ravaged a warehouse in Bobigny, a city north of Paris, they moved to Gennevilliers, another north-western suburb of Paris, which they also had to leave.

The 116 people — including 41 children and five pregnant women — seem to require little to survive.

Located three subway stops away from Paris, their present dwelling has no running water or electricity. Only a row of mobile toilettes — which are also used as football goalposts — are installed on the site.

“We are in France, and yet we have the same sort of refugee camps that you see in international conflict zones,” says Stéphanie Laudrel, an MDM coordinator.

The women stay in the camp while the men and children go out to earn a living by selling scrap or begging. To heat their coffee, the women burn plastic refuse gathered from garbage canisters.
 
‘Worse than under Ceausescu’

Over the past two months, these Roma people have been expelled five times, leading up to the May 23 fire. The warehouse they occupied in Bobigny was destroyed one Saturday afternoon by a fire that killed Diego, a seven-year-old boy. His family has accepted a humanitarian proposal to return to Romania. The others have declined.

"In Romania, one dies of hunger. At least here, we can manage,” says Mariana, a 37-year-old mother of seven. She left Romania four years ago and has been on the move ever since: from Spain to Portugal and finally to France.

“Here, it’s okay, except for the police force. They’re worse than under Ceausescu,” she says, referring to Romania’s infamous last Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.

The MDM operations chief says that he has not personally witnessed the sort of violent scenes commonly referred to among the Roma people.

A security official for Hauts-de-Seine, the department in which Gennevilliers is located, said the last expulsion in Gennevilliers was made in accordance with the rules set for illegal property occupation.

According to Laudrel, Hauts-de-Seine officials just wanted to pass on the problem and accompanied the Roma to the department’s borders. Questioned by FRANCE 24, a senior official declined to "add fuel to the circulating rumors”.

Wandering force

Romania’s entry into the EU did not change anything for the Roma people. They obtained freedom of movement but do not have the right to vote in the countries they move to. Right now, all these families want is to settle down here, in Saint-Denis.

Condemned to wander between shantytowns, Mariana today has only one wish: to avoid being driven out. "I want my children to stop sleeping in fear of being expelled in the middle of the night,” she says.

Two officials arrive to check the conditions at the camp…the children are not ready to handover their pyjamas.

 

Date created : 2009-06-01

Comments

COMMENT(S)