Rome Caritas blames police for violent removal of refugees

Rome Caritas blames police for violent removal of refugees

Rome Caritas blames police for violent removal of refugees

Police use fire hoses against immigrants near Rome's Termini train station. (Credit: Screen capture.)

Police in Rome said they were forced to use water cannons after refugees started throwing things at them and hitting them with sticks. The authorities were trying to evict them from buildings where the immigrants were living as squatters.

ROME — While government officials had an obligation to find a safe and dignified alternative for housing some 800 refugees squatting in an abandoned building in the center of Rome, the way police went about it led to violence, said Rome’s Caritas agency.

Police evicted hundreds of refugees from the building August 19. About 100 people, mostly Eritreans and Ethiopians with official refugee status, had been camping in a public square outside the building since then.

When police went back August 24 to clear the square near Rome’s main train station, violence erupted. Police said they were forced to use water cannons after the refugees started throwing things at them and hitting them with sticks.

Termini train station is less than five miles from the Vatican.

Caritas, the Rome diocese’s official charitable organization, said everyone knew that something needed to be done about the building, which had been occupied by the refugees since 2013. Living conditions inside were dangerous and unhygienic, Caritas said.

But “the way in which this happened, without any planning and acting as if it was an emergency, could do nothing other than lead to the escalation we saw this morning,” the Caritas statement said.

The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, which has had a medical team in the square since August 19, said 13 refugees were treated for injuries, and five of them were sent to the hospital by ambulance, after the police action August 24.

Humanitarian groups said the refugees had refused to leave the square because they wanted to stay close to their family members — the roughly 100 women, children and elderly refugees the police had allowed to stay inside the building.

“Because of the high number of people involved, the presence of children and family groups and the history of suffering and violence these people have endured, an intervention of this kind required specific social interventions” as part of a larger program regarding emergency and long-term housing for at-risk populations in the city, Caritas said.

“Unfortunately, as the ‘Mafia Capitale’ facts demonstrate, these policies have been lacking in our city for years, and groups and organizations profit from it,” the statement said. “Mafia Capitale” refers to a scandal involving city officials giving organized-crime rings contracts to provide city services, including for housing refugees, which they never provided or were grossly substandard.

Related Post

Your own personal guided tour of Mother Teresa’s Rome Art historian and Rome connoisseur Elizabeth Lev offers her Top Five list of destinations for pilgrims making their way to the Eternal City for the Se...
World Refugee Day a reminder to turn away from indifference Most refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) face acute problems, which include living in abominable conditions in makeshift housing, poverty...
Will Pope Francis close the year by taking on another mayor? On New Year's Eve last year, Pope Francis took a final shot at an ex-mayor of Rome he had a role in bringing down. This year, the city's powers-that-b...

Latest Stories

Most Read

Latest Stories

Related Post

Your own personal guided tour of Mother Teresa’s Rome Art historian and Rome connoisseur Elizabeth Lev offers her Top Five list of destinations for pilgrims making their way to the Eternal City for the Se...
World Refugee Day a reminder to turn away from indifference Most refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) face acute problems, which include living in abominable conditions in makeshift housing, poverty...
Will Pope Francis close the year by taking on another mayor? On New Year's Eve last year, Pope Francis took a final shot at an ex-mayor of Rome he had a role in bringing down. This year, the city's powers-that-b...