Six mayors have signed ordinances stating that they will only accept migrants into their towns if accompanied by a health certificate stating the holder is disease free.
The six mayors, from the Italian Province of Savona in the north-west coastal region of Liguria, made the move as hundreds of migrants arrived from Ventimiglia, a town on the furthest western reaches of the Ligurian coast bordering France.
Both scabies and tuberculosis outbreaks have been recorded among migrants, of which nearly 68,000 have landed in Italy since the start of 2015 according to figures compiled by the International Organization for Migration. Although there is yet to be a subsequent outbreak in the Italian population there is nevertheless widespread concern over the possible health risks migrants can bring.
The Local reports Mayor Enzo Canepa of the scenic seaside town Alassio was first to sign one of the ordinances. He now stands accused of using public health concerns as an excuse to block the incoming immigrants.
The move was labeled “ridulous” by Andrea Chiappori, regional manager of the Sant’Egidio charity. Speaking to the Italian newspaper Il Secolo XIX he said: “the correct approach is setting up a system that can welcome refugees as well as a health system that can protect both us and them.” Abdelaziz Sofi, who heads the Islamic cultural centre in nearby Albenga, said it was “a racist measure”.
The Italian association, Arci, a cultural grouping of the anti-racist left, described the ordinances as “apartheid” hidden by a “fig leaf of alleged and nonexistent health needs”. It called upon the towns’ residents to speak up and overturn the policies.
Another signatory, mayor of Zuccarello Claudio Paliotto, asked: “How can we manage?” continuing, “we are a small town with 300 inhabitants, if someone with a strange disease arrives, will we have to quarantine the whole town?”
The mayor of Casanova, Micheal Volpati, agrees with Paliotto, claiming his small town couldn’t cope with the arrival of migrants following two floods and budget cuts. He said: “I need to protect my citizens and I say no to refugees here, it’s not racism: once there is a clear and co-ordinated plan in place we will look at doing our bit to help.”