For Roma, few reasons to stay in Romania

Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:24pm EDT
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By Ioana Patran and Sam Cage

CALVINI, Romania (Reuters) - Vasile Ursaru shows off his freshly painted and double glazed house in Romania and says his family heads for Spain next week because of economic necessity after he left France because he feared deportation.

France's repatriation of Roma prompted one European Union official to recall the Nazis' persecution of the group, overshadowed an EU summit and sparked a row between President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel.

"France ... made someone out of us," said Ursaru, 49, surrounded by his wife and children at a Roma settlement in Calvini, an area on the edge of a town in the hills some two hours north of Bucharest.

"Romania did not help us with anything -- if things had been going good for us here of course we wouldn't have left in the first place," Ursaru, who left to avoid being deported after being sent back from France in 2007, told Reuters.

In the bleak settlement, unemployed men stand at street corners chatting while women wash clothes and children play on muddy, unpaved streets.

Half the vehicles passing are horse-drawn carts and the roads are lined with half-finished houses with no running water or sewerage. Many cars have French and Spanish registrations.

"What can I do here?" asked Ursaru's partner, Elena Banica.

"No one wants to give me a job and I am a mother of five. We are leaving for Spain on Tuesday. We stayed here for a week and can't live here because we don't have anything to live on."   Continued...

<p>A Romanian Roma woman shows how she was begging on the streets abroad as she sits on the steps of her unfinished house in Calvini village, 110 km (68 miles) north of Bucharest, September 21, 2010. France has deported more than 8,000 Roma since the start of the year, rounding up families in illegal camps and offering them a financial incentive to leave the country as part of an initiative by President Nicholas Sarkozy to tighten security. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti</p>