• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Turning away migrants 'heartless': Sicily mayor

Angela Giuffrida/The Local/AFP · 9 Jun 2015, 15:40

Published: 09 Jun 2015 15:40 GMT+02:00

As Italy struggles under the weight of the persistent migrant influx, Luigi Ammatuna said the north’s anti-immigration stance was “spreading bad feeling” about migrants across the entire country.

Pozzallo is a port town in the Ragusa region of Sicily that has been seen huge numbers of refugees land in recent years, many of them children travelling alone.

“It’s not right what people in the north are doing,” he told The Local.

“They are heartless and selfish. It’s incredible that they are refusing to all work together to help the government manage the crisis.”

Lombardy president Roberto Maroni said on Sunday he would be writing to local mayors and prefects in his region to warn them not to accept any more "illegal immigrants" allocated by the government. Municipalities that did not tow the line would have their funding from the region cut, he said.

Giovanni Toti, the newly-elected president of Liguria, backed that stance.

Luca Zaia, the right-wing president of Veneto, said the region that includes Venice was: "Like a bomb ready to go off. The social tensions are absolutely crazy."

The northwestern region of Val d'Aoste has also refused to welcome more migrants, citing a lack of facilities.

In contrast to the north, Sicilian towns have rushed to open migrant welcome centres, including several specifically for unaccompanied children.

Ammatuna said Pozzallo residents had “pulled together” to help, including giving clothes, food and medical assistance.

“We in the south have a very big heart,” he said.

“People from Pozzallo understand they need help, even if they themselves are struggling.”

Story continues below…

Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano also slammed behaviour in the north as "profoundly unjust", saying it risked placing ever greater strain on the poorer south, which despite struggling with high unemployment "has helped the state face this emergency."

Italy's reception facilities are at breaking point with nearly 80,000 asylum seekers or recently arrived migrants currently accommodated across the country.

Since the beginning of the year, 103,000 refugees and migrants have risked their lives, often on flimsy boats, to reach Europe, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

A total 54,000 have landed in Italy and 48,000 in Greece, while another 920 have arrived in Spain and 91 in Malta, according to the figures.

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Angela Giuffrida/The Local/AFP (angela.giuffrida@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Italy 'held naval manoeuvres with Iran' in strategic strait
The Strait of Hormuz. File photo: AFP

The Italian ambassador called the port call "a positive sign".

Northern Italian region approves 'anti-mosque' laws
One of Italy's few purpose-built mosques, in Rome. File photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Similar laws in other regions have been scrapped for being anti-constitutional.

Former nuns to get civil union in northern Italy
The former nuns have asked for anonymity; this photo is representative only. Photo: Pexels

The nuns fell in love during a mission, and will get their civil union on Thursday.

Earthquake volunteer dies on way home from Amatrice
Amatrice was the town most severely damaged by the earthquake. Photo: AFP

The engineer had cut short his summer holiday to assist with the post-earthquake recovery.

Italy tests 3,500 children for TB after doctor diagnosed
The doctor had carried out vaccinations on thousands of small children. File photo: Pexels

The hospital stressed the tests were a "precautionary and preventative measure".

Ancient Roman coins unearthed at Japanese castle
The 4th-century copper coin found in Japan. Photo: Jiji Press/AFP

How the coins got there is a mystery.

Italy slashes growth figures ahead of crucial referendum
Matteo Renzi at a press conference last month. Photo: AFP

Italy's economy has barely grown since 1999 - hitting working and middle class voters hardest. Economists say Italy will struggle to hit even the "prudent" revised targets.

Italy professor: Students should plagiarize - teachers do
One of the university buildings. Photo: Maris Firsova

A professor at Italy's oldest university says teachers are granted "impunity" in case of plagiarism.

Pope cars auctioned off to help Syrian refugees
The cars have personalized number plates. Photo: AFP

Got a spare €9,000?

Renzi revives plan for a 'bridge to Sicily'
Renzi said the bridge would "bring Sicily closer". Photo: Sarah Murray/Flickr

The bridge was first dreamed up in the 1960's, but no prime minister has succeeded in bringing it to fruition.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Culture
Eight things you should know about Rome's Spanish Steps
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The incredible hero dogs of Italy’s earthquake
National
Why quake-hit Amatrice will never be the same again
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
2,525
jobs available