For two days, a group of about 40 asylum-seekers staying at a refugee centre in the Veneto province of Belluno refused to eat the “pasta with tomato sauce, bread and eggs” meals they were given and called to be fed food from their own countries, Libero Quotidiano reported.
To reinforce their point, they blocked a street with a wooden bench, put their lunch on the ground along with bags of clothes and threatened to leave the centre in La Secca, a hamlet in Ponte nelle Alpi.
They reportedly said “we do not eat this stuff”.
The refugees, said to have been staying at the centre for the past four months, also reportedly slashed the tyres of cars belonging to staff working there in protest against living conditions.
The protest, which follows similar ones at centres in Pozzallo in Sicily and Rome, was also partly sparked by “boredom”, the newspaper said, as they “do not know what to do with themselves”.
Police soon broke up the protest and the refugees resumed eating, but Antonio De Lieto, the president of Libero Sindicato di Polizia, a non-profit organization that represents staff of the state police force, told The Local that the action was “excessive”.
“There are thousands of Italians living in poverty and who aren’t even eating one meal a day, let alone two or three,” he said.
“They’re not complaining that the food isn’t good, but that it is not the food of their countries. But when you’re hosted in someone’s home, for example, you eat their food, right? It’s like on the many occasions I’ve been hosted in England, I don’t expect to eat spaghetti.”
Sam, a migrant from Gambia who has been staying at a centre on the outskirts of Rome for almost a year, told The Local that the food, which mainly consists of pasta, “is not good” and that some have started making their own meals.
“We need the diet from our country,” he said.
Sam, who paid a people smuggler €4,000 to travel to Italy, said he passes the days by travelling on buses throughout the capital.
“I don’t want to hang around the centre all day. I can’t work and even if I could, too many Italians are also looking for jobs. Once I get my documents I want to go somewhere else, maybe Germany or The Netherlands.”