The town of Riace has 1,500 inhabitants, is located in the Reggio Calabria province, and has over the years become famous for its unique migrant reception and integration projects. RECOSOL has said that the town ''may see the death of its reception project, which is recognized around the world as an example of solidarity'', due to the cancellation of its financial support.
Over the past 16 years, ''Riace has been able to get out of its historic isolation, becoming a true point of reference for migrant reception'', according to the petition. Over 12,000 people have signed it as of Thursday morning. ''A small town that was becoming depopulated has been reborn thanks to the presence of migrants, who have brought life back to it.'' This is why ''innovative formulas have been used that have become a model for others: 'bonuses' and 'work bourses' '', the petition added. The 'bonuses' are a sort of voucher valid only within the municipality and only with shopkeepers that have agreed to the system. The 'work bourses' ''have made it possible to get the economic situation in the town back on its feet and have given work possibilities to the families of asylum seekers that want to stay in Riace''. If the funding is cancelled, ''this will mean an end to the project''.
RECOSOL has asked ''the Italian government, the interior ministry and the Reggio Calabria prefect's office to uphold the financial support provided to the Riace experience'', without which, ''most of this experience will be lost in a short time''.Mayor Lucano is 'disheartened and angered' The mayor of Riace, Domenico "Mimmo" Lucano, has said that he feels ''disheartened, disappointed and angered with the state'' and is prepared to leave the post if the interior ministry and the Reggio Calabria prefect's office do not continue providing financial support for the Calabrian city.
Lucano, mayor since 2004, has contributed to the revival of the small town by transforming immigrants into citizens. ''After a three-year delay, I have been told by Rome that the bonus payment system is not accepted,'' Lucano said. ''If the cancellation is upheld, the entire project will be closed.'' On September 2, a meeting is scheduled between the Riace town council and interior ministry officials. ''However, I will not accept solutions other than those in place now. I do not want pity,'' the mayor added. The Fortune magazine has named Lucano one of the 50 most influential people in the world and he received the Dresden Peace Prize in February. ''I will write to the Pope,'' he has announced, ''asking him to come to Riace and stand alongside us.'' (The picture shows an affresco made my migrants in the city of Riace, archive).