Approximately 1,592 migrants have been removed from a shanty town migrant camp in southern Italy as part of the populist government’s policy to dismantle squatter camps across the country.
The shanty town, formerly located in the southern Italian city of Reggio in Calabria, was bulldozed this week by police following a series of problems stemming from the makeshift camp in recent months, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.
Safety concerns at the camp have been a major issue, with fires breaking out over the last few months that have led to three deaths, the most recent being a 29-year-old Senegalese man who died last month.
In the aftermath of the death of the Senegalese man, populist Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini said the government had offered up 133 places in migrant homes but only eight migrants accepted the offer.
“They preferred to stay in the shanty towns, just abuse and illegality,” he explained.
Of the total 1,592 migrants who lived in the camp, 200 have been sent to migrant homes, 460 have moved on their own accord and 923 are currently being housed in a tent city set up by the government.
Italy’s Migrant Crackdown: Expulsions up, Squatter Camps Cleared https://t.co/3AhywhHjkN
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 19, 2018
The conditions in the new tent city are a stark improvement on the former shanty town, delivering working toilets and being supervised to ensure people’s safety.
Salvini himself said that he was happy about the clearing of the camp, saying the government “finally erased one of the most shameful slums in Italy where degradation, lawlessness, and exploitation proliferated.”
“After years of talk, now the facts have come I thank those who helped achieve this result, starting with the prefect,” he added.
The removal of squatter camps was one of the main pillars in the recently passed migration and security decree drafted by Salvini in 2018.
In Italy, Salvini has become synonymous with the “ruspa” or bulldozer after promising to clean up the country.
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) November 26, 2018
In November of last year, following raids against the mafia, the populist leader got in a bulldozer himself to begin the destruction of illegally built mafia homes.
Following the demolition of the homes, Salvini remarked that if he should lose his position as Interior Minister, “I’d have a second profession as a demolition worker, but also a rebuilder.”
The evictions in Reggio come after Salvini had already spearheaded the eviction of around 1,000 migrants in Turin from the city’s former Olympic village last year.