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'Blonde angel' sparks call for Roma camp sweeps

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The blonde girl was found by Greek police in a Roma camp. Photo: Greek Police/AFP
12:08 CEST+02:00
Italy's far-right Northern League party has called for inspections of all Roma communities in the country after a Roma couple was charged with abducting a girl dubbed the "blonde angel" in Greece.

“The Northern League has submitted an urgent question to [Interior] Minister Angelino Alfano in order for checks to be done to immediately verify, in all Roma camps in our country, whether there is a similar situation to the recent one in Greece,” MP Gianluca Buonanno was quoted in AgenParl, a parliament news site, as saying.

The statement comes a week after police discovered a blonde girl in a Roma camp in central Greece after she was allegedly kidnapped. A couple have been charged with abducting the girl, thought to be between five and six years old, after DNA tests proved they were not her parents.

An international appeal has been launched to find the girl’s family, with the case prompting debate about whether similar cases exist across Europe. On Tuesday, a blonde girl was taken by police from a Roma family in Ireland after doubts were raised over her parentage, international media reported.

Responding to Buonanno's comments, Dezideriu Gergely, executive director of the European Roma Rights Centre, said the Northern League has "an open anti-Roma agenda".

He warned that comments such as Buonanno's could lead to racial profiling: "As this Italian case shows, there can be calls in society to profile who is Roma or not.

"Not all Roma are dark skinned; some have blue or green eyes. How about Roma who have mixed families?"

"We are discussing cases [in Greece and Ireland] which have to be looked upon as two incidents with individual responsibility. This should not reflect on the entire community and should not be regarded as a label for the entire Roma community," Gergely told The Local.

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People are drawn into child trafficking due to extreme poverty, irrespective of ethnicity, he said.

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