News 18 Oct 13

Roma Girl Deported From France Hopes for Return

Fifteen-year-old Leonarda Dibrani, whose deportation to Kosovo sparked protests by schoolchildren across France, said that she still hopes the Paris authorities will allow her back.

Edona Peci

Leonarda Dibrani (left) with her sister Maria in Mitrovica.

Photo: BIRN

Speaking in French because she does not know Albanian, Roma teenager Leonarda Dibrani described her situation after being deported to Kosovo as “bizarre” and said that she wanted to return to the country that she sees as her home.

“I hope I will [get back to France], but who knows. Even if I don’t get back, that’s also life,” she said on Friday.

She was speaking in front of a house in the mainly Albanian-populated Ilirida quarter of the city of Mitrovica, some 40 kilometres from the Kosovo capital, where she is now living with her parents and five siblings, all of whom were deported from France a week ago.

She was detained by French police during a school trip earlier this month – an incident that caused anger amongst many pupils in the country and sparked a series of demonstrations.

But her father, Reshat Dibrani, said that only he was actually born in Kosovo, so the family should not have been deported there at all.

“My children are not registered as Kosovars, but we told the French authorities we were so we could get a permit to live in France,” he told BIRN.

“What the consulate did is like sending an Albanian to Africa,” he said.

Dibrani said he was born in Kosovo but moved to Italy where the children were born.

He admitted that he had lied to the French authorities so the family could stay there.

“I have used a false document of my marriage made in Kraleva [in Serbia] and I’ve paid someone 50 euro for preparing this fake document,” he explained.

Despite this, he said that he was “determined to go back to France, because my children don’t like it in Kosovo”.

“Until Monday, we won’t have any response. We expect to go back. God is great so he will help us,” he said.

The controversial deportation has reignited debate in France about tough immigration policies which led to the family's expulsion.

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