The populist mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, has demanded that the Italian Interior Ministry suspend the arrival of further migrants into the capital.
‘’It is time to listen to the citizens of Rome’’, the 38-year-old mayor wrote on Tuesday, ‘’We cannot allow for the creation of new social tensions’’, later tweeting that the city was under great migratory pressure and that the situation could not continue.
62,000 migrants have arrived by boat from Africa since the start of the year, joining the half a million which have landed on the southern Italian coastline since 2014.
The Interior Ministry of Italy’s center-left government redistributes arrivals across the country, providing accommodation and assistance whilst asylum claims are processed. In reality, however, few rejected cases are deported making the current wave of migration essentially permanent.
Official figures put at 8,500 the number of migrants housed in the capital but these figures fail to take into account the squalid makeshift encampments regularly cleared by police, or of those living rough through-out the city.
Raggi, in her letter to the prefect of Rome, Paola Basilone, stated that it would be impossible, even dangerous, to find more accommodation for migrants in the city.
Elected last June, Rome’s first female mayor is part of satirist Beppe Grillo’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which has its eyes set on government in next year’s elections.
Having suffered a set-back at last weekend’s local elections, critics are accusing the movement of using fears over the migrant influx to drum up support.
The presence of migrants has become a noticeable phenomenon in Rome, where increasing numbers of recent arrivals can be seen wandering the streets, even bathing in the city’s classical fountains.
Tuesday’s action by Raggi may prompt more cash-strapped municipalities to follow suit in rebelling against the government.
Photo Credit: LaPresse