Picture shows the shed hosting the SPRAR deemed unsafe by local authorities in Caserta. | Photo: ANSA / Antonio Pisani
Picture shows the shed hosting the SPRAR deemed unsafe by local authorities in Caserta. | Photo: ANSA / Antonio Pisani

Italian authorities have seized a warehouse that hosted a community center in the southern city of Caserta, citing “structural deficiencies.” The center manages a hosting facility for asylum seekers and refugees.

Carabinieri police in the southern city of Caserta, in Italy, have seized a warehouse used by the community center 'ex Canapificio,' an association that manages the local SPRAR hosting project for refugees. The SPRAR network stands for Il Sistema di protezione per richiedenti asilo e rifugiati (System of protection for asylum-seekers and refugees). It is made up of local networks, funded by the state, which run welcome centers and integration projects across Italy.


The operation was ordered by the State attorney's office in the city of Santa Maria Capua Vetere near Caserta. Authorities said the seizure was due to "structural deficiencies" reported at the warehouse; the deficiencies were thought to have been caused by the infiltration of water into the building's structure, according to prosecutors. 

'Activities blocked' after seizure 

The warehouse is owned by the Campania region around Caserta.The local administration had been discussing measures to secure the building whose deficiencies have been known for years, according to local sources. The community center hosts the offices of the SPRAR program and an office to apply for the REI inclusive income and the 'citizenship wage' basic income. 

Mimma D'Amico, who manages the center, said its activities are now "blocked." "We will immediately alert the prefect, region, police department and the city administration of Caserta," D'Amico said, adding that she was "bewildered and grieved" by the measure. 

'The party is over'

Italy's Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the "far-left community center had occupied the building since the start of the 2000s." Under Salvini's government the law has changed and the SPRAR system has been updated to a new acronym SIPROIMI (system of protection for those with international protection status and unaccompanied foreign minors), which means that the regional government of the Campania region will take over the running of the center and any projects contained within. 

The project was ''one of the largest in Italy'' and was being managed by the community center ''with the blessing of the (left-wing) municipal government'', said Salvini, the League's leader."Today the Carabinieri have seized the building, on the order of prosecutors in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, due to serious structural deficiencies and horrible hygienic sanitary conditions," continued Salvini. "How is that possible? The community center was paid a lot of public money to assist the [migrants it looked after] and never took care of maintenance? The party is over!" concluded the interior minister.
 

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