Refugees moved out as more violence hits migrant center

Refusal at bar sparks trouble

13 November, 19:13

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, NOVEMBER 13 - Rome city authorities on Thursday started transferring some refugees from a migrant reception centre on the outskirts of Rome that has been at the centre of repeated violence this week.

    Earlier in the day residents of the Tor Sapienza area threw bottles and stones at the centre, which mostly hosts minors.

    The refugees responded by throwing objects from the windows. The latest violence was reportedly triggered by a bar's refusal to allow a group of migrants to enter.

    "Don't come in here, this place is not for you," they were allegedly told. The Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio, which works closely with migrants, responded by calling for an end to "the culture of violence" and urged Rome to maintain its open character "against every form of racism".

    However, Senator Maurizio Gasparri of the opposition center-right Forza Italia party blamed the government's now-defunct Mare Nostrum migrant search and rescue programme for "dumping hundreds and hundreds of immigrants on our coasts and in our cities, clogging reception centres and making the situation unmanageable". One woman who lives in the Tor Sapienza area said locals would only be satisfied when the facility was completely empty.

    "It'll only be a victory when they've taken them all away," the woman said.

    On Wednesday Rome prosecutors opened a probe into a violent attack on the Tor Sapienza migrant reception center on Tuesday in which two people were injured, including a police officer who was hospitalized with contusions. Some 80 enraged residents set cars and dumpsters on fire and threw stones and flares at police who stood guard throughout the night around the reception center. "Some 70-80 people, many of them with their faces covered and armed with sticks, attacked the center and our patrols with a clear intent to commit an assault, throwing blunt objects and flares at law enforcement and at the center itself," police said in a statement. Tensions remained high throughout the day Wednesday in the eastern suburb and a migrant was attacked in the evening. The violence came after 400 people turned out to a public meeting Tuesday to call for more security after a local girl was harassed while walking her dog in broad daylight. Residents also complained of car thefts, the lack of lighting in the neighborhood park, and a rash of house break-ins, which residents ascribe to foreigners living in the area. These also include Romanians and Albanians who reside in low-income housing and Roma people who live in an area encampment. "We are exasperated, not because we are racists but because these people commit thefts and attacks. They are making our neighborhood unlivable," one female resident said. "If no one will guarantee our safety and justice, we will have to provide it ourselves". City authorities were swift to slam the episode of gang vigilantism. "We will not let citizens' safety be endangered by a gang of violent extremists venting their fanaticism," said Mayor Ignazio Marino.(ANSAmed).

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