Mi­grant cen­ter shut down by Italy’s far-right gov­ern­ment

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

What was once Europe’s big­gest mi­grant re­cep­tion cen­ter, in Mi­neo in Si­cily, is to of­fi­cially close on Tues­day in the pres­ence of its big­gest critic, far­right In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini.

“Prom­ise kept,” Salvini, in gov­ern­ment also as deputy prime min­is­ter for the past year, said last week when the cen­ter’s fi­nal in­hab­i­tants were re­moved, to be sent to an­other cen­ter in Cal­abria.

This re­cep­tion cen­ter, a for­mer hous­ing com­plex for the US mil­i­tary that re­sem­bles an sub­urb, is now guarded by Ital­ian troops who block ac­cess un­der a roast­ing Si­cil­ian sun.

At its peak in 2014, Mi­neo housed more than 4,100 peo­ple. Its pop­u­la­tion then steadily dropped. When anti-mi­grant Salvini and the pop­ulist Five Star Move­ment came to power in June last year, it housed 2,500.

Psy­chol­o­gist Mas­si­m­il­iano Ter­rasi stood amid the arid coun­try­side out­side the cen­ter where he worked since 2011, dis­ap­pointed at what he said could have been.

“Hopes were high when the cen­ter first opened and we grew pro­fes­sion­ally,” he told AFP-TV.

“Well man­aged, it could have been an as­set for the area and for peo­ple’s mu­tual un­der­stand­ing,” he said, voic­ing anger at the abrupt end to his years of work, fi­nal wages still un­paid.

In the be­gin­ning, care and hy­giene con­di­tions were de­cent, he said. But things started to de­te­ri­o­rate when the pop­u­la­tion went over 3,000.

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