Kosovo Romas forced to leave Germany for their inhospitable homeland

France's crackdown on the Roma community has been criticized by the UN. However, the flow of Romas has caused a growing racist and xenophobic tone not only in France.

Deportation. There is no uglier word to the inhabitants of Rosenwinkel.

Over the last twenty years, Roma families from Kosovo have lived in this suburb of the provincial town of Gottingen as refugees. Now, almost all must leave.

Like other Roma neighbourhoods in Germany, this one in Gottingen is impoverished, but at least it gave its inhabitants a refuge from the worst of the Balkan conflicts. Now, what little these people have, they are about to lose.

Djulijetta Tahiri escaped from Kosovo eighteen years ago. Her children have never been there and speak German among themselves. She shows them pictures of her husband, though she says they are forgetting what he looks like.

He was deported to Kosovo, returned illegally, and then was thrown out again. She also faces deportation, but says she will not follow her husband.

“I would rather commit suicide than go back to Kosovo,” she said. “People are starving there. My husband has no job. He cries all the time. He sleeps in a park and his health is bad. There is no life there.”

A Roma camp in Kosovo is located next to a toxic slagheap and nine out of ten children there suffer from lead poisoning. Unable to speak the language, most do not go to school.

UNICEF say that Roma returning to Kosovo earn one-third less than local residents in what is already Europe's poorest country.

“The Roma are totally isolated,” said Roma rights activist Kenan Emini. “The Albanians drove us out and it is not even safe for us to go back, but the Germans do not want us either. 10,000 out of 13,000 of us here have to leave by 2013.”

Many Germans say that neigbourhoods like Rosenwinkel are proof that the Roma have not settled well. Few here are employed, housing lacks basic facilities and the crime rate is high, making them an easy scapegoat for nationalists.

However, even those who sympathize with the plight of the Roma struggle to help them. As Kosovo is now officially deemed safe for return, the Roma have few legal rights to remain.

“These persons were to be helped when the problems arose, so it was only for a temporary stay from the very beginning,” said immigration lawyer Alexander Baron von Engelhardt. “It seems this temporary stay is extending for longer than originally planned.”

However, charity with a “best before” date is hard to understand for people who have made this country their homeland, even if it does not want them.