Romani people in France

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Romani people
Flag of the Romani people
Guitar player Django Reinhardt.
Ritual bath in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a shrine associated with Romani people.
A seal on a document on the Montreuil-Bellay "nomad concentration camp (1943).

French Romani people are generally known in spoken French as "Tsiganes". The French typically divide Romanies in their country into three groups: "Roms," referring to Romanies who come from territories East of France; "Manouches," also known as "Sinté," who often have familial ties in Germany and Italy; and "Gitans," who trace their familial ties to Romanies in Spain.[1] The term "Romanichel" is considered pejorative[citation needed], and "Bohémien" is outdated. The French National Gendarmerie tends to refer to "MENS" ("Minorités Ethniques Non-Sédentarisées"), a neutral administrative term meaning "Travelling Ethnic Minorities".

Approximately 400,000 Romani live in France as part of established communities. Additionally, French Romani rights group FNASAT report that there are at least 12,000 Romani who come from Romania and Bulgaria living in illegal urban camps throughout the country. French authorities often close down these encampments. In 2009, more than 10,000 Romani were sent back to Romania and Bulgaria.[2]

In 2009, the European Committee of Social Rights found France to violate the European Social Charter (rights to housing, right to protection against poverty and social exclusion, right of the family to protection) in respect of Romani population.[3]

2011 repatriations[edit]

On 12 April a chartered flight left northern France headed for Timisoara in western Romania with as many as 160 Romani on board. Like in the 2010 deportations, those who left France received 300 euros and each Romani child was given 100 euros. The Romani on the 12 April flight all signed declarations that they would never return to France.[4] On 9 August, the city of Marseille in southern France forcibly evicted 100 Romani people via a municipal order who had settled in a makeshift camp near Porte d’Aix. They were given 24 hours to break down their camps and leave.[5] It has also been reported that a chartered flight carrying approximately 150 Romani back to Romania left the Lyon area on 20 September.[6] France’s goal for 2011 is to deport 30,000 Romani back to their home country.[7] As of 2012, France sent about 8,000 Romani back to Romania and Bulgaria in 2011, after dismantling illegal camps where they were living on the outskirts of cities. The actions prompted controversy and calls for greater inclusion of Romani people.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liégeois, Jean-Pierre. Roma, tsiganes, voyageurs. Council of Europe, 1994.
  2. ^ "Q&A: France Roma expulsions". BBC News. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  3. ^ ECSR decision on complaint no. 51/2008
  4. ^ "France resumes deportations of Roma people from Romania". Czech Press Agency ( 13 April 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Ira, Kumaran (11 August 2011). "Marseille mayor orders mass expulsion of Roma camp". World Socialist Web Site (International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)). Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "France: One Year On, New Abuses against Roma". Human Rights Watch. 28 September 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Bran, Mirel (12 October 2011). "France's Immigration Chief Revisits the Roma Expulsion Issue, in Romania". Le Monde (Worldcrunch). Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  8. ^