Uproar as Padua woman hosts migrants for free

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Padua's mayor has cracked down on people illegally housing migrants in private property. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP
12:40 CEST+02:00
Thousands of Padua residents have signed a petition to evict six migrants from a house where they’ve been hosted for free.

The petition comes amid a crackdown by Massimo Bitonci, mayor of Padua and member of the far-right anti-immigrant Northern League party, on tenants hosting migrants in private properties.

Three thousand people have so far put their names to the petition to evict the six migrants, who moved into the city centre property that is rented by the woman, called Patrizia, last month TGcom24 reported.

Fabrizio Boron, a Northern League councillor who organized the petition, said “there is no guarantee that they’re not terrorists”.

The rental contract for the property expires on July 31st and Patrizia is reported to have fled the city and left the matter with her brother to deal with, TGcom said.

Her brother, who reportedly works for a charity called Percorso Vita, is said to have convinced her to loan the organization the property for free.

The property’s owner was quoted by TGcom as saying: “I’m very upset, I won’t let it happen again.”

Bitonci said that “hosting illegal immigrants in private homes is the wrong choice.”

“People have asked me to intervene because the situation is intolerable,” he added.

Police are due to start checks on homes across the Veneto city, where more than 500 migrants are said to have recently arrived, from Monday, Padova Oggi reported.

In practice, tenants can reach an agreement with social cooperatives to make properties available, but need to comply with health and safety regulations. Anyone caught flouting the rules faces a fine of €500 or more.

For almost a year, 200 migrants have been housed in 40 apartments across the city, Roberto Tuninetti, who works for Coges, a social cooperative, told Corriere del Veneto.

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The Veneto and Lombardy regions refused a request from the Italian government in April to find emergency housing for the country’s migrant influx.

The call came after a surge in attempted illegal crossings from the coast of north Africa saw nearly 8,500 migrants rescued in one weekend, reigniting a debate in Italy over whether or not the country has a duty to house all new arrivals.

More than 1,000 migrants died while attempting the crossing within one week in April after their boats capsized. 

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