Confiscated Mafia houses may accommodate refugees, migrants

Rome authorities are looking into whether refugees, migrants and other homeless people can be accommodated in houses confiscated from the mafia.

City officials are mapping the confiscated real estate to see if any of it is suitable for temporary housing.

The first census of 200,000 potentially available apartments is due by the end of October, according to Mayor Virginia Raggi’s Facebook page.

The city’s push to find migrants accommodation follows a 5000-strong protest last weekend over the way city officials were treating 800 Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees.

The refugees, many of whom have jobs and children at school, had been evicted from an office block they’d been living in since 2013.

The UN refugee agency also condemned the evictions, especially as adequate alternative housing arrangements were not provided.

Having nowhere to go, the evicted people camped out on a central piazza.

Rome authorities and police then used water cannons against them.

Police say the raids were necessary because the migrants had cooking gas canisters and other flammable materials.

Raggi defended the police action saying the city wouldn’t tolerate illegal squatters. She estimates squatters occupy about 100 buildings around Rome.

Rome has had a long-standing housing shortage, with poor families on waiting lists for suitable accommodation for several years.

The city authorities have not so far managed to ease the shortage.

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News category: World.

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