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13 Jun, 2017 20:56

‘Impossible & risky to take in more migrants’ – Rome mayor

‘Impossible & risky to take in more migrants’ – Rome mayor

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi has asked the Italian Interior Ministry for stricter measures to be taken toward the influx of foreigners into the capital.

A letter outlining the need for a “moratorium” on "the continued influx of foreign citizens" was sent by Raggi to Roman prefect Paola Basilone.

"I find it impossible, as well as risky, to think up further accommodation structures," she wrote in the letter, as quoted by La Repubblica on Tuesday. 

“This administration, given the high flows of unregistered migrants, hopes the assessments of new facilities take into account the evident migrant pressure on Roma Capitale [the City of Rome] and the possible devastating consequences in terms of social costs as well as for the protection of the beneficiaries themselves."

In May, Raggi told RT that she was working to help accommodate refugees and asylum seekers in Rome, but also that she also has a responsibility to her constituents and other countries in the European Union must do their part.

“Let’s put it this way – Rome would be better off if European states didn’t build walls along their borders, but rather followed through on their obligations and respected the migrant quotas agreed upon by the EU,” she told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze. “According to the law, the city of Rome must accept migrants, as Mayor – I have to follow the law and do everything in my power to make sure that people are granted a safe place to stay here. But if other European countries decide to finally follow through on their obligations, we will welcome that decision.”

“As mayor of Rome, I have to accommodate migrants, but I am also responsible for the security of my city and its residents. We cannot ignore either issue.”

Raggi’s calls for a moratorium on immigration comes amid an EU-wide resettlement effort for refugees and other asylum seekers. Three countries – Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic – are facing legal action from the European Commission for failing to take in their share of the quota.

The three countries “have not yet taken the necessary action,” the Commission said in a statement, claiming that the three EU members “have not yet relocated a single person.”

“Against this background… the Commission has decided to launch infringement procedures against these three Member States.”

Since January, other countries within the bloc have relocated almost 10,300 people from Italy and Greece, according to the commission. “The pace of relocation has significantly increased,” it added, saying it has witnessed “a fivefold increase” compared to the same period last year.

In total, nearly 21,000 asylum-seekers have been distributed throughout Europe, some 14,000 from Greece and the rest from Italy. The flow of asylum seekers has been substantially slowed thanks to an agreement with Turkey, but this has not solved the problem of asylum seekers who are already there and stranded in overcrowded camps, where conditions are squalid and crime and sexual abuse are rampant.

According to the most recent figures published by the local government, as of January 2016 there were 364,632 foreigners living in Rome, making up 12.7 percent of the total population compared to 8.3 for Italy overall. Half of those foreigners are from Europe, according to figures released by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat).