Castel Volturno mayor Dimitri Russo announced that the municipality would be using real estate confiscated from the Camorra to foster migrant integration  | Photo: ANSA
Castel Volturno mayor Dimitri Russo announced that the municipality would be using real estate confiscated from the Camorra to foster migrant integration | Photo: ANSA

Real estate confiscated from Mafia will be used for migrant integration in the central Italian province Caserta. 22 million euros will be invested into the project by the municipality, the interior ministry and the regional government.

Castel Volturno mayor Dimitri Russo said Thursday that his municipality would be using real estate confiscated from the Camorra to foster migrant integration.

Almost 50 percent of the area population are migrants, most of whom hail from Africa.

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the municipality in the Caserta province with Interior Minister Marco Minniti and Campania regional governor Vincenzo De Luca. Almost 22 million euros will be invested into renovating existing buildings and setting up new ones  - 16 million from the regional government, 5.5 million from the central government.

The municipality, Russo said, ''has 83 assets available that have been confiscated from the Camorra and another 60 will soon be made available. With this funding, we will be able to transform the territory, make it more welcoming and livable for immigrants as well as Italians.''

Many projects and associations working in the area 

Russo said that they had residential buildings, villas, terrain and farms that had been confiscated even some 20 years ago and were now in very bad shape, vandalized or occupied for some periods. "We can now initiate projects to restore and reuse them.'' 

There are many projects by the municipality as well as ones by associations working in the town. One of the centers of investment will be Parco Faber, a park with 50 small villas built by the Camorra and confiscated from them. ''In those small villas,'' Russo said, ''there will be a shelter for victims of domestic violence, a music center and one for cinema. One villa has already been signed to the local healthcare authority, which will provide social and healthcare services to immigrants. Another will be managed by the (LGBT rights association) Arci Gay of Caserta.'' 

One of the aims of the projects will be to give professional skills to immigrants to enable them to find employment. ''One example is the cooking didactic laboratory, which will be in a villa of the Casalesi that we call 'La Pagoda' in reference to its shape. It will be run by a hotel institute for multiethnic workshops, in order to make the knowledge of traditional cuisines of the many ethnicities in Castel Volturno into a job."

Urban rehabilitation

However, due to social tensions between immigrants and Italians in the municipality, the project will focus on urban rehabilitation, beginning with the sewers and the coast, Russo explained. "There are thousands of migrants that land on Lampedusa and already have a ticket in their pockets for Castel Volturno, since there are hundreds of second homes of those who came here 20 years ago and have now abandoned them.'' 

By rehabilitating the territory, he continued, ''by making Castel Volturno once again a tourist destination, we can motivate homeowners to come back and decrease the migrant pressure on this area. We do not want to throw anyone out and I laugh when I see mayors protesting on TV because they have 50 migrants. I have 20,000, but I know that it doesn't make any sense to consider putting them on planes an sending them away. We can make them grow professionally and give them opportunities to find work in the north, instead of exploiting them for 20 euros per day in a sort of slave labor in the countryside.'' 

The funding will also go towards demolishing illegal ruins. 

The projects were drawn up by Special Commissioner Francesco Antonio Cappetta. Two million euros from the Migration and Integration Asylum Fund (FAMI) will go towards starting different workshops (language, cuisine, film, music, crafts, and tailoring) as well as promoting sports activities and professional orientation and the stepping up of social support for women and children. Part of the funds will also be used to prevent school dropouts.


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