Some 300 young migrants seized control of the refugee welcome center where they were guests in southern Italy on Monday, barricading themselves inside for eight hours by piling up furniture against the entrance to the building until a series of demands could be met.
The migrants issued a list of demands, including better living conditions and the ability to communicate with their families in their home countries. The real sticking point, however, is their demand to be moved elsewhere, particularly to Germany or other countries of northern Europe.
The welcome center is located in the former headquarters of the Law School of the University of Mediterranean Studies in the Italian region of Reggio Calabria.
State and local police in riot gear, as well as members of the State Forestry Corps, assembled around the welcome center in an attempt to dialog with the migrants. Officials from the regional Immigration Bureau were also on the scene, trying to calm people down.
The migrants finally relinquished control of the center on Monday afternoon.
Regarding their current living conditions, migrants are claiming they have little food, no hot water, insufficient clothing, shampoo and soap to wash, and that they are forced to sleep on cots or directly on the floor in sleeping bags.
Local assistance associations, however, have reported that supplies of food, clothing and other goods arrive regularly and the immigrants are treated very well. “The truck arrives every morning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” said one official. “It’s an excuse; they want to go away to Milan, Rome, to the North, and they complain about these things in order to be taken elsewhere.”
The property currently houses 340 young people, 140 of whom just arrived with the latest landings at the port of Reggio, who sleep in a makeshift dormitory at a gym close to the reception center.
According to a member of the prefecture of Reggio Calabria, they simply have no more facilities to accommodate new arrivals, especially unaccompanied minors, a situation he has called “a true emergency.”
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