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Migrant women forced to relocate following residents' protest

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Migrant women forced to relocate following residents' protest
The fishing town of Gorino in Ferrara, where locals yesterday protested the arrival of 11 migrant women. Photo: Caspar Diederik/Flickr
09:03 CEST+02:00
Twelve migrant women have now been relocated to different towns, after residents in the northern Italian town where they were due to stay put up a barricade to stop them entering and chanted anti-migrant slogans.

On Monday evening, residents of Gorino, a small town in Ferrara, created road blocks at three entrances to the city in protest at the arrival of the female refugees.

The protests began at around 7pm, according to local media reports, with chants of "We don't want them here".

Protesters used planks of wood and iron bins to barricade the coach carrying the migrant women, which had a police escort.

More than 200 locals reportedly participated in the protest - a figure which amounts to almost half of the town's entire population, though it is possible that some of the protesters came from outside Gorino.

On Tuesday afternoon, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on the La7 radio station: "We can find all the excuses we want, but this is not Italy. Italy is the young people of Naples who help the rescuers on the pier when migrants arrive, or the Lampedusa doctor Pietro Bartolo," referring to the doctor who has assisted with every arrival of migrants on the small Sicilian island.

READ MORE: The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants

The migrant women, one of whom is pregnant, were scheduled to stay at the town's 'Love and Nature' hostel, a building which belongs to local authorities but has been rented out for the past four years. Some were accompanied by their children - eight minors in total.

In a statement, the prefecture said that using five of the hostel's rooms to house the women was "necessary, taking into account the saturation of the shelters already in operation and the lack of further availability."

The owner of the hostel told La Nuova Ferrara that he had warned authorities a week ago that he was unable to host the newcomers, and that the rooms had already been booked by tourists. He also said that they had only informed him about the new arrivals a few hours in advance.

A regional councillor from the far-right Northern League Party, Alan Fabbi, called the protesters "heroes of the resistance against the tyranny of acceptance" and wrote on his Facebook page: "Honour to those who defend their rights and their freedom." 

Police intervened in Gorino, although no violence was reported, and Ferrara mayor Michele Tortora has been forced to rethink his plans for accommodating the migrants.

The 12 women will now be relocated to other towns in the area, including Comacchio, Fiscaglia and Ferrara itself.

Ansa reported on Tuesday morning that the protest was still going on, with some residents of the fishing town refusing to go to work or take their children to school.

'Gorino' was the second trending topic in Italy on Twitter on Tuesday, with some users supporting the actions of the protesters, and others expressing sadness or shame.

"I'm ashamed of a part of Italia which is dear to my heart," wrote one Twitter user, Ernesto Tomas.

"Sicily accepts 4,000 migrants, in Gorino they create barricades against 12 mums and children," said Antonio Fraschilla.

On Monday, the Italian coastguard announced that more migrants had arrived in 2016 so far than in the whole of last year, and Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni sent a clear message to other EU nations: "Italy is playing its part, but we can't go it alone".

Note: An earlier version of this article said that 11 women had been scheduled to arrive in Gorino, in accordance with what mayor Tortora had announced. This has since been updated to 12.

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