Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Helsinki sends beggar mothers back to Romania on child welfare grounds

www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english

Mihaela Stoica's departure postponed by onset of labour: baby boy born on Saturday .

A new development relating to Romanian beggars in Helsinki took place on Friday when a pregnant beggar woman went into labour and had to be taken to hospital.

The city’s Social Services Department had decided earlier that for reasons relating to child welfare, Romanian mothers and their children would have to be repatriated to their native country.

Early last week another Roma mother Mariana Moldovan and her little daughter Angelica Moldovan were already escorted by plane to Romania, and on Friday it was the turn of Mihaela Aurelia Stoica.

"According to the EU human rights guidelines, the protection of children must be secured", said Olli Salin from the Helsinki Social Services Department on Friday.

The heavily pregnant Stoica and her spouse Trandafir Suras were to travel by ferry tofo Sweden on Friday, and to take a bus from Sweden to Romania later.

While the social workers were waiting for Stoica and Suras in the premises of the Social Services Department on Friday afternoon, Stoica was instead waiting for an ambulance in the underground shopping mall under Helsinki’s main railway station, as her contractions had begun in earnest.

Mihaela Aurelia Stoica was taken to the HUS Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Helsinki’s Meilahti where she gave birth to a baby boy early on Saturday morning.

The plan is to transfer the mother and the baby, who arrived several weeks early, to the mother and child home in Helsinki where the 17-year-old Stoica will be taught how to cope with looking after her baby. The family will leave Finland when the baby is a little older.

Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors is in favour of the decision to return the female beggars and their children back to Romania, as the other alternative of taking the children into custody is problematic.

The issue causing controversy is whether or not the Finnish authorities have the right to take into custody children whose parents only stay in Finland temporarily. In addition to Stoica, the other female members of the family were also willing to leave the country of their own free will and at their own expense, according to officials.

On Friday it was not known as yet whether or not they left.

Helsinki police pointed out on Friday that they were not a party to the repatriation of the Romanian women and children, but that it was purely a Social Services exercise on child welfare grounds.

Romanians who have been found guilty of crimes committed in Finland have been deported earlier, but in this instance the beggars have a perfect legal right to be here under EU freedom of movement legislation.

Romania joined the European Union in 2007.

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