Bus drivers 'not racist' for refusing immigrants

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A migrant from Eritrea waits at Milan's central train station. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP
12:52 CEST+02:00
Bus drivers in Milan are refusing to transport migrants because of fears they will catch diseases, but have insisted the move was not racially motivated.

In a letter to the Milan's transport authority (Atm), the drivers said they were concerned about the health risks posed from transporting migrants from the city's central station to accommodation centres.

In the letter, the bus drivers were quick to deny any suggestions of racism stating: "It's not racism. The correct sanitation measures are not in place, neither for workers or passengers." Corriere Quotidiano reported.

Hundreds of migrants have arrived in Milan in recent weeks, and the letter comes after migrants set up makeshift camps in Milan's Central station while they waited for trains to Northern Europe last week.

Such makeshift camps prompted panic among citizens after medical analysis showed that many of the refugees were suffering from the highly contagious skin condition scabies.

"In ten lines [the letter] sums up the decision: bus drivers are refusing to transport refugees from the central train station to accommodation centers," La Repubblica said.

As Italy struggles under the migrant surge, Milan authorities are providing the bus service using city buses. But drivers argue that the vehicles aren't cleaned after use, something authorities have denied, and that they're not being provided with protective clothing, such as the masks and gloves used by military staff dealing with migrants.

The letter, which was signed by various trade unions, said the health risk being run by bus drivers and their families shouldn't be underestimated, and that the service "needs to be carried out according to sanitary regulations, which we haven't been informed about.”

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