Vatican Weighs in on France's Gypsy Deportation

Notes Complexity of Europe's Largest Minority

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ROME, AUG. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Europe needs to look at the complexities of issues surrounding Gypsies, or Roma, both for the present and the future, says the secretary of the Vatican's council for migrants.



Archbishop Agostino Marchetto made this observation when he spoke with Vatican Radio about a recent move in France to repatriate several hundred Roma.

The archbishop pointed to European legislation that prevents a collective expulsion.

Last week, 89 Roma were sent out of France on a direct flight to Budapest. The next day, another 139 left for Romania and Bulgaria.

The French minister of immigration estimated that by the end of August, some 850 Roma will have been returned to their countries of origin. All of them have agreed to leave France in exchange for €300 ($381) per person. It's been reported, however, that those who don't agree to leave now will be deported later without the stipend.

Precarious

Archbishop Marchetto noted pressure on the immigrants as 51 illegal camps were dismantled at the beginning of this month.

He lamented the "precarious situation for these brothers of ours, which can evidently condition them in regard to accepting a certain type of economic aid that will sustain them in this departure."

The prelate noted European legislation restricts collective deportations unless there is grave danger to security -- an evaluation, he said, which can be influenced in public opinion.
 
The Vatican official urged that the issues regarding Gypsies not be underestimated, saying this is a "grave question for Europe, because it is the most numerous minority group in Europe: There are at least 12 million people, among them 5 million children who should go to school."
 
"They are all important realities," he affirmed, "for the Europe of today and of tomorrow."