Roma arrive back in Romania from France

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Over 150 Roma sent back to Romania by French authorities on Tuesday arrived in the western city of Timisoara, according to an AFP correspondent and airport authorities.

The 159 people arriving from the northern region of Lille accepted a "voluntary return aid" from French authorities.

However, one man arriving at the airport here said he intended to return to France.

"I received 300 euros (430 dollars) for me and my wife and 100 euros for my children. We came back to celebrate Easter at home but we will return there by car", a Roma man from the eastern department of Bacau told AFP, declining to give his name.

The international community has criticised France's Roma clampdown, which has seen hundreds of the minority sent back to Romania and Bulgaria since the beginning of August despite EU legislation on the free movement of people.

France has said it needs to deal with the Roma because of what the government says is increased petty crime committed by the minority. Bucharest disagrees, and has sent strengthened police cooperation with Paris.

Romania is home to 530,000 Roma, according to the official census. However, local NGOs say that about 2.5 million Roma live in this country, many of whom hide their origins for fear of discrimination.

© 2011 AFP

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