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IMMIGRATION

Rome ‘too crowded’ for more migrants: mayor

Rome receives the second-largest number of refugees among Italian cities, but Mayor Ignazio Marino has warned that the Italian capital is reaching saturation point.

Rome 'too crowded' for more migrants: mayor
Refugees camped outside Rome's Tiburtina station in June. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

His warning comes less than a month after violent protests broke out over the arrival of 100 refugees in Casale San Nicola, a suburb in the outskirts of the city.

Concerned about how to accommodate more refugees, Marino said the city is “overcrowded”.

“We can't welcome 18 to 20 percent of people who arrive in our country. We don't have the resources,” he was cited by Ansa as telling a Lower House commission on immigration on Tuesday.

With reception centres bursting at the seams, refugees set up a makeshift camp outside Rome’s Tiburtina station in mid-June before it was raided by police.

Several leaders in Italy's wealthier north have refused to bow to a government call to take in more refugees, but this is the first time concerns have been voiced by the Rome mayor.

But tensions over immigration have escalated across Italy in recent months. A day before the Rome protests, residents in a Treviso district burnt furniture intended for refugees in protest against their arrival. The refugees were eventually taken to an empty police station outside the city. 

Marino is also under pressure to fix the city’s myriad other problems, including its transport system, the maintenance of monuments and its waste issue.

ROME

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.

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