The long path to reparations for lost children sent to repopulate rural France

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For several decades, it remained one of the most shameful secrets of post-war France: from 1963 to 1982, more than 2,000 children were  deported from the French-governed Indian Ocean island of La Réunion to mainland France in a government programme to repopulate deserted rural areas in the centre of the country. It was only in 2002 that the scandal first came to public attention, beginning a long campaign for justice. That finally resulted in an official commission of enquiry which this week presented its initial findings, when it formally recognised the displaced children’s suffering, including maltreatment and racism. But the victims, a number of whom are now in their 50s and 60s, are still waiting for proper reparation.

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Between 1963 and 1982, more than 2,000 children from the French Indian Ocean island of La Réunion, from infants to teenagers, were uprooted from their homeland and deported to mainland France as part of a French government programme to repopulate remote rural areas in the centre of the country.