Prosecutors in the southern Italian region of Calabria have opened a probe against the mayor of Riace in connection with the local model of reception and integration of migrants that has made the town famous throughout the world.
Prosecutors in the Calabrian town of Locri have opened a probe against the mayor of Riace, Domenico "Mimmo" Lucano, for alleged abuse of office, official misconduct and aggravated fraud in relation to the provision of services for migrants in the area. Lucano has been placed under investigation together with the president of the association 'Città Futura' Fernando Antonio Capone in connection with the so-called 'Riace model' of migrant reception and integration that has made the town of 2,300 inhabitants in the province of Reggio Calabria famous the world over.
In 2016, Fortune magazine named Lucano one of the 50 most influential people in the world for his creative integration of migrants into the local community. Now he is implicated in a probe that began at the start of the year after the local prefect's office raised a number of questions concerning the local migrant reception system. Lucano rebutted that the questions mostly concerned criticalities in the Italian migrants reception system as a whole, but his objections were allegedly "not taken into consideration".
Daily expense allowance
The investigation reportedly centers on the daily expense allowance of 35 euros per migrant granted to local authorities for reception and on the relationship between the Riace municipality and the associations that provide the services in the area. "They want to inspect the management accounts for the last two years," Lucano said. "I am disconcerted and speechless but in some respects it almost makes me laugh because I have no hidden assets. I don't own anything and I have no secret accounts," he continued. "So I welcome the inspections and let them be as thorough as possible," Lucano concluded.
Policies to encourage migrants to stay
The mayor of Riace was notified of the investigation against him after he had been to Rome to resolve an issue that had led to the suspension of funding for special financial tools for migrants aiming to promote integration and encourage them to remain in the area once the projects have finished. "This idea has led to the creation of teaching farms and artisans' workshops. Now we have also opened a multiethnic kindergarten.We are trying to promote integration by creating employment opportunities that might encourage the migrants to stay on. It is a policy that also aims to develop the area."
Author: Alessandro Sgherri