top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon

French town unites to assist migrants

Fifty friends have joined forces to support a migrant family from Serbia threatened with expulsion from France. 

They helped organise a civil baptism for the family’s youngest child at the mairie in Sarlat, Dordogne, with maire Jean-Jacques de Peretti, who is also backing the family.

Irfan Zaïri is from a mixed Romani-Ashkali ethnic minority family, with Serb nationality, and his wife Xhemile Latifi-Zaïri is Albanian, also with Serb nationality.

They came to France three years ago with their sons Lian, five, and Ledion, three. Omer, 20 months, was born in France.

Mr Zaïri, a builder, and his wife, a nursing auxiliary, were fleeing violent aggression.

Mr Zaïri was constantly threatened with violence and said: “I decided we had to leave the country. My wife’s brother is a policeman and he could have killed me and got rid of the evidence.” Marie-Laure Guiradel first made contact with the family and said: “I was told about their arrival by a friend who knew I was willing to help migrant families.

“I made a cake and went to introduce myself.

“I quickly realised they had no financial support and were not allowed to work. I asked another couple to join in, but we needed more help.

“Now we are a big group and as well as giving them money, we also take them to official appointments and teach them French.”

The family’s first application for asylum was rejected.

Patrick Sardant from Udasti, which helps migrants with their paperwork, said they had a good case but were ill-advised when they arrived.

Mr Zaïri has been given an expulsion order, though it has not been implemented yet.

Mr Sardant said: “Having a group like this is a huge help. I have never seen one as big.”

Have your group featured: The Connexion regularly features news and events from community groups all over France.

We would be pleased to publicise your association (non-commercial) – it’s a great way to bring in members and it is free! Email 

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Visa and residency cards for France*
Featured Help Guide
- Visas and residency cards (cartes de séjour) for France help guide - Understand when visas and residency cards are required to move to France or come for an extended stay - Applies to Britons (post-Brexit) and to all other non-EU/non-EEA/Swiss nationalities - Useful to anyone considering a move to France, whether for work or otherwise, or wanting to spend more than three months at their French second home
Get news, views and information from France