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21 Oct, 2008 02:27

Italy’s Romany community fears attack from locals

Romany communities in Italy say they are increasingly becoming the target of attacks by local residents. It’s claimed the Italian government has shown a disregard for the families coming from central Europe looking for work.

In April, after the alleged attempted abduction of an Italian child by a teenage member of the travellers’ community, the Romany encampment near Naples was destroyed. Overnight, the 50 people living there in squalid conditions were forced to flee. 

Their excavators come and got rid of everything. They don’t care about us!” one man told RT.

There are 700 camps like this in Italy, predominantly on the outskirts of Italy’s largest cities.

The Italian government has called the nomads a “security emergency”, making the country’s Romany community feeling even less secure.

At the moment, the government is launching a mass finger-printing programme for the Romany population, estimated at 150,000. This step is aimed at helping the new government’s crackdown on crime – in particular illegal immigration, which has more than doubled in the past year. Along with other measures, the government has promised to reduce the number of children begging for money on the streets of major Italian cities.

Still, in spite the official stance, some Italians tend to think that the issue is overstated.

One local man said: “There is no problem. Only the media wants to exaggerate the situation. Only in Italy there seems to be a problem, in other countries – no problem.”

But tensions are rising. The nomads say they harm no-one and keep themselves to themselves. They fear they may be the next targets of angry Neapolitans – angry at rising crime, angry at rivers of rubbish – and that they will be the scapegoats.