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France continues Roma deportations

More than 100 are flown back to Romania

Roma women expelled from France sat at Bucharest’s Henri Coanda airport. On Wednesday, Romania and France signed a deal to repatriate Roma families.

Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

Roma women expelled from France sat at Bucharest’s Henri Coanda airport. On Wednesday, Romania and France signed a deal to repatriate Roma families.

BUCHAREST, Romania — A French minister said Thursday that authorities will continue to expel Roma who camp illegally in France as more than 100 were flown back to Romania from the central town of Lyon.

The Roma, bedraggled-looking women, men, and babies, landed at the city’s Henri Coanda airport, saying they had lived in camps, slept rough in the woods, or in other accommodation. Some refused to talk with reporters and concealed their faces.

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‘‘We stayed in France to earn our daily bread. We begged, we searched through the garbage,”said Marin Lican, 35. ‘‘Here they must give us something to work. We need to have a place and something to do to earn some money. We have three kids.’’

A 65-year-old man, who identified himself as Gindacu, said: ‘‘We didn’t have money here, the cost of living is very high . . . everything is expensive. The country is in crisis.”

“It wasn’t all that nice because I was estranged from my country where I was born and raised,’’ he said as he prepared to head home, about 190 miles west of the capital, Bucharest, with some of the 27 family members who had accompanied him during a yearlong stay in France.

Roma climbed on buses headed to the capital while others, including nursing mothers, squatted outside the airport terminal sitting next to scruffy luggage, waiting for later buses.

Their arrival coincided with a two-day visit by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who said Thursday that ‘‘France has a policy of evacuating illegal camps and of escorting them to the border.’’ Romania has more than 1 million Roma, also known as Gypsies.

In August, French police expelled hundreds of Roma from illegal camps in the suburbs of Paris.

On Monday, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said she is worried about Roma rights.

On Wednesday, Romania and France signed a two-year deal to repatriate dozens of Roma families.

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