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Italian mayor asks to swap migrants for earthquake victims

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Italian mayor asks to swap migrants for earthquake victims
Cene is a small town in the Bergamo province. Photo: Pedro/Flickr
14:45 CET+01:00
A mayor in northern Italy has asked to accommodate victims of the recent earthquakes in housing which had been earmarked for migrants.

Last week, mayor Giorgio Valoti from the far-right Northern League party, complained about the arrival of 59 migrants in Cene, a town of 4,000 in Bergamo. 

He used road signs usually reserved for traffic updates to inform residents that the migrants had been assigned to the area without his being notified. The group were allocated to housing belonging to the Church, with an additional 90 expected to arrive in the coming days.

"The mayor advises that without being informed in advance, 60 foreign citizens have been allocated to the former settlement in Monte," the message said.

Valoti shared pictures of the signs to his social media networks, asking locals to attend a council meeting to discuss the issue.

This week, he came up with a new idea: those left homeless by the recent earthquakes in central Italy should be allowed to use the accommodating.

The quakes in central Italy have left 20,000 temporarily homeless; for the moment, they are being housed in hotels and temporary accommodation. 

"I am close to the people who have just been hit by the earthquake," Valotti wrote, vowing to propose to Bergamo's bishop and prefect that the holiday homes be used to house earthquake victims rather than migrants.

He ended the post with a series of hashtags, including '#aiutiamoprimainostri' (let's help our own first) and '#alfanodimetti' (Resign, Alfano [the country's Interior Minister]).

In late October, a group of 11 migrant women was forced to relocate after residents of Gorino, a small town near Ferrara, barricaded the street in protest at their arrival. The owner of the hotel to which they had assigned said he had not been given advance notice of the new arrivals and that some of the rooms had already been booked by visitors.
 
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano condemned the protest, saying: "This is not Italy."
 
Larger cities have also seen protests, particularly in Milan where migrant centres are overcrowded due to the closure of borders with France and Switzerland.

Earlier this week however, Milanese residents organized a 'welcome party' for migrants moving into the city's former barracks, using food, music and banners proclaiming 'in Milan, nobody is a foreigner' to show solidarity with the newcomers in response to the latest wave of protests.
 
 
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