Roma in Germany Politicians Say Deportations Will Remain Exception
Around 12,000 refugees of Roma descent are threatened with deportation from Germany. But high-ranking state politicians call the repatriation agreement between Kosovo and Germany impractical, and say they will use regional law to prevent deportations that would cause hardships.
Ehrhart Körting, the interior affairs minister for the city-state of Berlin, considers the April agreement between the German and Kosovar governments on the repatriation of civil war refugees from Kosovo to be impractical. "There is a danger that deportations into unsecured areas would take place," the politician, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), warned. For such situations, he said it would be necessary to investigate each individual case.
Since the agreement was reached this spring, around 12,000 refugees of Roma ethnicity have basically been under threat of deportation in Germany. During the first six months of the year, however, only 87 Roma from throughout Germany were forced to return to the Republic of Kosovo. Nor is it expected that that there will be a lot more transfers in the future -- contrary to claims made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a European Union summit in Brussels last week.
No Mass Deportations of Roma in Germany
"There will not be any mass deportations," said Ralf Jäger, a member of the SPD and interior minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which is home to around 3,700 Roma who could face deportation under the agreement. "We will use the full potential of state law to ensure that repatriations to Kosovo do not result in any individual or familial hardships," Jäger said.
Körting added that "many of the refugees from the civil war work here, they earn money and their children are socialized here."
As he sees it, the current problems arise from more recent arrivals from the European Union member states Romania and Bulgaria. He said they are known to work "under the table" at building sites or in restaurants, clean car windshields at traffic lights, busk on public transport or send their children out to beg. In Berlin's Neukölln, a working-class district, a special task force comprised of social workers, city authorities and the police has been set up. Its task is to mediate conflicts between Roma and others, and between Roma.