They met each other in a small village not far away from Zagreb. On a dusty road under a linden tree they had their first kiss, it was love at first sight. He was young, divorced, with two kids, while she was simply a beauty, way more than an ordinary village girl. Meet Jelena and Goran, a Roma couple from Croatia.
What appeared to be an innocent romance at first sight grows into something bigger. A baby is on its way. Money is needed to sustain the family, but the village does not offer enough opportunities. So, Goran and Jelena depart with a few other families for Paris. When Goran finally finds a job, Dejana is born, a baby girl. So far so good, but the romance is coming to an end while more money is needed to take care of the family.
Jelena hears about a temporary job opportunity in Lille so she decides to take the chance. Nevertheless, she does not get the job, so she is stuck in Lille with thousands of other fortune seekers. No job, no money, no house, but just a couple of pieces of plastic and some boxes used as a shelter. Dejana has not heard from her mother in weeks.
No job, no money, no house.
At the margins of Lille, thousands of Roma people are living in unbearable, inhumane conditions without any help from the French government. However the French government is conducting forced evictions against those people, without offering any compensation or alternative housing. According to Amnesty International, at least 10.000 people were left homeless in the first half of 2013. Worse, the French Minister of Internal Affairs declared that the Roma should return to their countries, where they should assimilate.
Generally speaking, each European citizen enjoys free movement within the EU and has the fundamental right to choose his or her country of residence. Nevertheless, Roma are used as scapegoats in times of crisis. A Hungarian study has shown that Roma people are treated likewise in almost every European country, thereby making them Europe’s largest and most vulnerable minority group.
The story of Jelena and Goran is fiction, but sadly enough, the measures taken by the French government and its consequences are real. Hostility against this minority group is reaching the point that MEP’s called for an crisis convention
Picture by Philippe Leroyer