Italy: Members of Migrant Welcome Group Arrested For Defrauding Taxpayers

POZZALLO, ITALY - FEBRUARY 19: Refugees and migrants wait on deck of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms rescue vessel Golfo Azzurro to disembark after being rescued off Libyan coast north of Sabratha, Libya on February 19, 2017 in Pozzallo, Italy. 466 migrants were rescued in high seas last Friday …
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Italian police have arrested two members of a migrant help organisation for fraud after it emerged that the group was claiming money for services it was not actually providing.

The group, a co-op called ‘Solidarity’, took money from the government in Florence to provide basic services to migrants under their care at a facility they were running. Investigators found out that not only was the group not providing services they had received taxpayer cash for, they also were housing migrants in their facility above capacity, Il Giornale reports.

Investigators said they found “multiple irregularities of a criminal and tax nature charged to the contracting co-operatives, confirmed by the incomplete justification of the costs incurred for the provision of services.”

They added the organisation also failed “to provide pocket money to at least 300 migrants”, prevented them from obtaining phone cards, and even refused to provide healthcare.

Giovanni Donzelli, a member of the populist-conservative Brothers of Italy party, commented on the arrests, saying the pro-migrant activists “thought to give us lessons of morality, in the meantime, they used migrants as a human commodity. The left has long been co-responsible for the waste of public money and the exploitation of these people used to make money for the co-operatives.”

Abuses by pro-migrant NGOs have been seen across Europe, from fraud to sexual exploitation, which has allegedly occurred both at the former Calais Jungle migrant camp in France and with an NGO working with asylum seekers in Greece.

Italy has also had problems in the south of the country with criminal mafia organisations becoming involved in running asylum centres, as the government did not have the capacity.

The mafia allegedly used bribes to enter the “refugee business” and were said to have taken cash from the government for housing migrants, but ended up using unsanitary, dilapidated buildings, and even forced migrants to pay them “protection money” out of the pocket money they gave to them.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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