The ‘truth’ is France's Roma are France’s problem – not Romania’s

In what felt like the last round of a bad game of snakes and ladders on Wednesday, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls came out to “tell the truth” about the Roma situation.


“These people have an enormously different lifestyle [from the French],” he told radio station France Inter, saying only a small minority managed to integrate themselves. The rest, he said, "should return to Bulgaria or Romania".


He’s right about one thing – these people do have an enormously different lifestyle from most French people. Walk home late at night in Paris and you see entire families tucked in under two or three ragged duvets and on a bed of cardboard; the top of one, two or three childrens’ heads poking out as their parents prop themselves up either side. 


During the day, these families set to begging, foraging through bins and, in some cases, pick-pocketing. When they sit down to eat it’s around a tin can and a packet of biscuits donated by a local shopper. After-dinner entertainment for the kids involves a discarded scooter with one wheel and a football that no longer inflates. So yes, their way of living is indeed far, far, removed from those around them who enjoy a home, social security, the opportunity of work, etc.


What is sad about this admission from the interior minister is that it went by largely unnoticed. Yes, the Roma “debate” trundles on; the press are more than happy to put his sound-bite in the day’s bulletins. But an actual debate about what is fast becoming a humanitarian crisis in France seems to be missing.


On top of this, anti-Roma rhetoric has become so commonplace over the past few years, that when somebody speaks of “Roma traits,” it’s barely thought of as discriminatory – even coming from a Socialist government minister.


'Send them back' where?


Back in June 2012 when Valls entered office many thought he might offer a welcome relief to the travelling community. Instead, he has revealed himself as an adherent to Nicolas Sarkozy’s “not our problem” way of thinking.


After Valls’s admission of “truth” on Wednesday he went on to defend the government’s razing of Roma camps, which has seen more than 8,000 people made homeless in 2013 alone.


Under the flimsy pretence of trying to help, the government has been putting homeless Roma on flights to Romania and Bulgaria with 300 euros cash-in-hand. The initiative, launched in 2005 and accelerated by then president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010, has been criticised not only as totally irresponsible but also as a total waste of money.


Some 10,000 people are flown back and paid off each year, but most of them admit to having no plans of staying in Bucharest, where they face abuse and discrimination worse than in France. The Roma deportees my colleagues spoke to on arrival in the Romanian capital admitted that they would be making their way straight back to France with the 300 euros pocketed.


France’s Roma population has remained stable – between 15,000 and 20,000 – for years (it is not spiralling or booming, as scaremongers would have you think).


A people who have spent decades here, who speak the language, who identify as French, and who are EU citizens, cannot be brushed off as somebody else’s problem.

Instead of promising to get rid of the “Roma problem” ahead of municipal elections next year, Valls and his peers should be thinking up new ways to integrate this vulnerable group. Razing their homes and deporting them is only going to lead to more homelessness, poverty, and - inevitably - crime. And that’s not an election promise anyone wants to buy into.

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I would agree with many comments , these people are in other European countries illegally and have to suffer the consequences . All this hype and propaganda encouraging illegal migrants should be looked upon with suspicion , and people who support not respect of laws , themselves put under investigation . People who cannot obey the basic EU rules have no rights and have to be punished . If as an Eu citizen I go and stay in another Eu country for over 3 months and do not ask for a residence certificate , i can be expelled or imprisoned , laws have to apply to all equally . People and organisations ( UN , NGOs etc ) should be investigated when they encourage non respect of laws , and probably punished , as none of these people or groups are accountable;e to any EU citizen. These people or groups have never talked about the security risks associated with illegal migrants , and the problem's that many countries in the world have because of these people , everything from drugs , to criminal gangs , to petty stealing . All migrants ( which I am one) should be required to prove integration into a new country , otherwise they are send back to their country of origin. Do these Roma even have passports or identity cards ? I doubt it , this in itself makes then illegal for any travel in the EU . The Roma have have centuries to integrate and they have not done it , no they have to pay the price .
You are confusing what is the "original" Roma population of France with newly immigrated Roma people. This is not a "race" question - its about EU rules. If you can not prove to the host country you wish to spend time in that you are able to pay the costs of your life there, you may be denied entry. That, and only that should be the question.
Negative attitudes (sentiments, language, etc.) towards Jews is called "anti-Semitism". Negative attitudes towards Roma (aka Gypsies) is called "racism". But how do you call negative attitudes towards Romanians? "French hypocrisy", perhaps?
You are confusing what is the "original" Roma population of France with newly immigrated Roma people. This is not a "race" question - its about EU rules. If you can not prove to the host country you wish to spend time in that you are able to pay the costs of your life there, you may be denied entry. That, and only that should be the question.
Very well Ms. Sophie should set the example and be the first person to open your doors to a family of Roma. Tell us a week later how that works. The fact is simply this: If you are disturbed that a Socialist minister of all persons, would be remarking on such topic, then perhaps it is because even those on the Left are realizing the problems created by those who do NOT wish to integrate, but leech off a system which rewards their behaviour? Tell us Ms. Sophie many Romas do you see in suits and ties, with resumes in hands, searching for matter what the skill level? The Left needs to face reality and stop throwing the "racist" card everytime they hear a comment about romas, or any other groups of ethnic immigrants who do not integrate but take advantage of their host country. France can barely take care of her own without having to bend over backwards even more to those who contribute very little, but steal a lot.
I totally disagree with the article, the Roma for their overwhelming majority cannot be integrated and be useful members of the French society for the simple obvious truth that they lack any job skills a modern society needs in addition to be too unruly to follow regular working schedules provided we even had job vacancies to speak of. It's certainly the saddest to see them in dire misery eking out a living by rummaging through the garbage cans in the streets but their only way out of it and potential at living better lives lies in their home countries. The French interior minister just speaks an obvious truth everybody knows but few dares to speak out, their lifestyle is utterly incompatible with the ways of work of a modern society.
more discriminated in Romania??? Dude get your facts streight. There are times when I feel more discriminated. Everyone is saying that Romania is unable to integrate them. I say keep them and integrate them if you can in your society. Not all gypsies ar the same and the truly honorable once you will not even notice. You will only see the scums. Good luck with them
Well, And Manuel Vall should return to Spain, as he does not integrate in the PS...
QUOTE: "...staying in Bucharest, where they face abuse and discrimination worse than in France." Come one! Do you think us stupid? You have the impertinence to lie in full view! From what I see Romanians and not Romanian Gypsies are the discriminated and insulted nation in hypocritical France.
Plenty of room for new low cost housing in Afghanistan. Honestly a great opportunity for people who have nothing to get land and space & build up towns for themselves & their children. The French government will have to provide supplies to build homes & dig wells, and build new roads & wire up solar panels & provide farming support. But Earth is huge! No reason to live in the streets begging if you can move to some open space elsewhere & start building a whole new town. Maybe France can help Romania build a whole new city, in proper style - modern yet also classical Romania style? Children should not live in cardboard boxes on dirty streets! No one should be discarded like trash like that...
No, they are not France's problem. They have nothing to do with France. Should, definitely, be sent home.

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