Italian authorities demolish camp housing 1,500 migrants

More than 1,500 people have been evicted from a large refugee camp in southern Italy. The eviction in San Ferdinando is the largest of its kind since Italy’s anti-immigration far-right government came to power last year.  

Nearly 1,000 police officers surrounded the camp as bulldozers destroyed around 400 shacks.

“As promised … we went from words to actions,” said Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, also head of the far-right League party.

Andrea Tripodi, mayor of San Ferdinando had previously said the camp was a health and fire risk. The government said migrants and asylum seekers would now be taken to reception centres.

However, most of these migrants and asylum seekers were reluctant to leave as they were employed as undocumented labourers in orange and olive groves in the area. Many told Italian media that they would look to find abandoned shelter in the countryside, to stay closer to the groves.

According to a report by The Guardian, these undocumented workers are paid only a fraction of the minimum wage. The hourly rates are as low as EUR 2, and three-fourths do not have work contracts. During the harvesting season, as many as 3,000 undocumented labourers would camp in the area without electricity, running water or latrines.

The camp has been dismantled in the past, but migrants and asylum seekers soon return. Local authorities said they would take “all measures necessary” to stop the camp from springing up again.

TMP – 17/03/2019

Photo: Antonio Arico/Shutterstock. Piles of debris left after bulldozers from the Italian army destroy the tent city of San Ferdinando