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New party tries to woo Hungary's Roma

With elections looming on April 6, a new party is trying to win over Hungary's largest ethnic minority, the Roma, a community scarred by deep poverty and racism and disillusioned by traditional politics. "Until now, the Roma have never had credible leaders," said Aladar Horvath, a prominent rights campaigner and leader of the new Hungarian Gypsy Party (MCP), at a recent party event. "If we stick together, we can fix our problems. No one else will," the soft-spoken 49-year-old told AFP in Ozd, a rusting former industrial town right on the Slovakian border.

Another French Roma camp in flames as 8-year-old mourned

Fire raged through a Roma camp in Marseille on Sunday, just days after a blaze in a Paris area Roma camp killed an eight-year-old girl. No one was hurt in the fire on Sunday morning, but all 15 makeshift homes near the Marseille port were completely destroyed, said the local fire brigade in a statement. "Preliminary investigations suggest the fire was started accidentally," a judicial source told AFP.

Easier to reach Pope than recruit Man United's Januzaj - Albanian coach

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania's Italian soccer coach says he has an easier time getting hold of Pope Francis than reaching the father of Adnan Januzaj in the hope of recruiting the Manchester United winger to the Balkan country's national team. Born in Belgium to ethnic Albanians originally from Kosovo, Januzaj is being wooed by a number of national teams including Belgium and Albania.

French minister backtracks on Roma comments

France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls appeared to backtrack Thursday on controversial remarks that Roma did not want to integrate, saying some could fit into French society. The comments from the tough-talking Valls, whose earlier remarks about Roma sparked condemnation at home and abroad, came a day after one of the largest Roma camps in France was dismantled by police in a northern Paris suburb. Valls told France Inter radio that "of course" there are some Roma families "who have real plans to integrate in France."

France clears major Roma camp outside Paris

French authorities on Wednesday cleared one of the country's largest Roma camps, evicting some 800 migrants from a shantytown north of Paris. France has in recent years pursued a controversial policy of evicting Roma migrants from camps outside major cities, often paying them to return to their countries of origin, mainly Romania and Bulgaria. About 300 police converged on the camp early Wednesday in Saint-Ouen in the northern suburbs of Paris.

Greece charges Roma couple in fresh child 'kidnapping' case

Greek authorities have removed a four-year-old girl from a Roma couple, after DNA tests showed she was not their daughter, and have charged the pair with kidnapping, a judicial source said Tuesday. The case was similar to that of another that made headlines in October, when Greek authorities ciruclated the photo of a blonde girl named Maria living in a different Roma camp in Greece with a couple who did not resemble her. After a media storm, Maria's real parents -- other Roma who had abandoned her -- were tracked down in Bulgaria.

Serbia charges two army officers with Kosovo war crimes

Serbia's war crimes prosecutor on Wednesday charged two army officers with the murder of at least 27 Kosovan civilians including a young child during the 1998-1999 war. Pavle Gavrilovic and Rajko Kozlina are charged with committing a war crime against civilians in March 1999 in the southern Kosovo village of Trnje, the prosecutor said in a statement. The attack was ordered by Gavrilovic, 48, who told his unit "not to leave anyone alive" in the village, the indictment said.

Bulgaria questions 'parents' of Greece mystery girl

Bulgarian authorities on Thursday questioned a couple thought to be the parents of Maria, a mysterious blonde girl whose discovery in a Greek Roma camp has made global headlines. The woman, Sasha Ruseva, was quoted as saying that desperate poverty had forced her to leave behind a baby in Greece and that Maria looked like she might be hers. "There is a resemblance, but how should I know if she is mine or not?" the thin, dark-complexioned Ruseva told reporters, clutching a small, freckled and pale-skinned child of two or three with dyed red hair.

Rights group warns against 'Roma steal babies' stereotyping

Roma communities around Europe are being stereotyped and scapegoated in the wake of recent child abduction allegations in Ireland and Greece, the head of a Roma rights organisation said Thursday. "We urge the media and authorities not to assign collective responsibility to Roma communities on the basis of individual cases," Dezideriu Gergely, director of the European Roma Rights Centre, (ERRC) told AFP. The cases had encouraged stereotypes such as "Roma communities steal babies" and an attitude that "Roma are guilty until proven innocent", he said.

Roma couple say mother gave up mystery girl to them in Greece

By Karolina Tagaris LARISSA, Greece (Reuters) - A Roma couple accused of abducting a mystery four-year-old girl dubbed the "blonde angel" by Greek media told a court on Monday that her biological mother willingly gave her to them as a baby because she could not look after her. The discovery of the girl, known as Maria, has riveted Greece and prompted thousands of calls with leads from across the world as authorities try to track down her real parents, as DNA tests have shown she was not born to the Romas.
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