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Deported Roma Girl Mulls Return To France

  • RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Leonarda Dibrani

Leonarda Dibrani

MITROVICA, Kosovo -- Leonarda Dibrani, the 15-year-old Roma girl whose deportation from France to Kosovo caused an outcry, says she may accept a French offer to return to France.

"I think about my future and everything else. I want to finish school. I’ve been here [in Kosovo] for 15 days now. I don’t go to school and it feels weird not going to school," she told RFE/RL in Mitrovica, where she has been living with her family since their October 9 deportation.

Dibrani's deportation sparked student protests in France after she was detained in front of her classmates during a field trip.

French authorities say the deportation of the Dibranis was carried out in line with the law after the family's asylum request was denied.

French President Francois Hollande has said Leonarda could return to France to continue her studies, but has ruled out a return for the family.

Dibrani initially said she would not return without her family, but on October 23 she told RFE/RL that she had met with a French embassy official in Pristina to discuss under what conditions she could travel back to France.

"I asked [the French official] about a host family and she told me I had nothing to worry about," Dibrani said. "[The official said] I could ask for anything I wanted and I would be given a reply within a couple of days. I think that way my response might also change."

Her mother, Xhemile Dibrani, meanwhile said the family was heartbroken when they learned the details of the French offer.

"We are not against French President [Hollande] or France," said Xhemile Dibrani. "We’re just saying that to hear them telling our daughter to go to France on her own was like a bomb explosion in our hearts. My husband and I do not agree to be separated from our daughter."

Resat Dibrani, the father, has admitted that he was the only one born in Kosovo and lied about his family's Kosovo origins to try to win asylum in France. His wife, daughter, and her siblings were born in Italy.

The family had lived in France for four years before they were deported.
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