Migrants in Castel Volturno, in the area of Caserta | Photo: ANSA/CESARE ABBATE
Migrants in Castel Volturno, in the area of Caserta | Photo: ANSA/CESARE ABBATE

Castel Volturno, a southern Italian municipality near Caserta, has a population of around 23,000 irregular migrants. Commenting on the recent murder of an undocumented Nigerian migrant on September 10, Castel Volturno's mayor warned that the situation in the area is "unmanageable".

The mayor of Castel Volturno, Luigi Petrella, on September 11 said that the city near Caserta "has become unmanageable". After the end of lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, "the population of irregular migrants grew visibly'', he said. 

"There were 20,000 at the start of the year while today there are between 22,000 and 23,000."

The mayor was commenting the death of a 31-year-old Nigerian citizen, an undocumented migrant without a police record, who was shot dead on September 10. 

Investigators suspect a group of Italians could be involved in the attack, in which another Nigerian national, a 36-year-old man, was injured. Investigative sources said the man could have been killed as part of a battle to control criminal activities usually managed by Nigerians. 

'State must intervene' 

"Episodes like this attack are the consequence of a lack of control of the territory, which is impossible to implement with the men and means that we have. I am extremely concerned," said Petrella. 

"The State needs to intervene, I don't want to use the situation but it is necessary once and for all to manage a situation that has become unmanageable: the municipality, with just 12 local police officers, can't do much, only denounce," he said.

He explained that a few months ago, the company in charge of cleaning calculated that, based on the garbage it collects, over 45,000 people are actually living in Castel Volturno, "although the official population is of 27,000 residents, many of whom are regular migrants who have not integrated."

This means, he continued, that "at least 20,000 people, mainly foreigners, are not subjected to any control or rule. And over the past few months, especially after the end of the lockdown, thousands have arrived from everywhere; security officials have also perceived this."

''These people, who landed who knows where, might arrive to work honestly -- they often already know on which door to knock in Castel Volturno; but then, in order to survive, they often end up in criminal organizations." 

In this scenario, concluded Petrella, "it is impossible to control the territory and to guarantee the security of citizens," for the local government and the police. 

'No vision in politics'

The Italian police chief, Franco Gabrielli, commented the murder during a visit on September 13 to a police precinct in Aversa, near Caserta. "On immigration there is no vision, which includes legislative changes," he said. 

"Immigration is not a matter of public order, although it becomes one in the end. But the word vision is not part of Italian politics," he stated.

"The mayor complains legitimately. I have long stated that Castel Volturno is the emblem of how the migration phenomenon is managed -- always with the approach used for an emergency; the dust is placed under the carpet and in the end it becomes a problem of public order," he added. 

"There are three pillars" to deal with migration, Gabrielli said: ''first of all, flows must be regulated and, if this doesn't happen, entries become illegal. It is then necessary to repatriate those who commit crimes and, finally, it is necessary to promote paths of integration. If we marginalize people, we create places of neglect and crime, which can also lead to situations of terrorism," he concluded.

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