The area evacuated near Termini Station, which was occupied by migrants during the lockdown. September 14, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI
The area evacuated near Termini Station, which was occupied by migrants during the lockdown. September 14, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI

Dozens of people who were living in a makeshift tent camp near Rome's central Termini train station were evicted by Italian authorities on Monday. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it is concerned about those who were driven out, because they weren't provided with any alternative solutions.

A makeshift tent camp that sprung up during the COVID-19 lockdown in Rome contained dozens of different life stories, including those of migrants as well as Italians who lost their jobs and homes due to the pandemic. The people who were living there are now "orphaned" from the camp, which, despite the fact that it was hastily thrown together and not necessarily dignified, was what they called home. 

On Monday morning, authorities cleared out the illegal settlement on viale del Pretoriano, located in front of a barracks near La Sapienza University and Termini train station in Rome. The law enforcement operation took place following a meeting of the provincial board for order and safety at the city's prefecture, where, according to reports, the board heard from social service associations.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) expressed concern "for the fate of dozens of people who were evicted without alternative solutions." 

"They were left without a place to go and without personal effects because during the eviction operation, mattresses, blankets, clothes, and all other items in their possession were removed and destroyed along the sidewalk." 

MSF says 'umpteenth forced eviction without alternatives' 

"Men and women were living along viale Pretoriano, many foreigners and some Italians," said MSF. 

"Some had ended up living on the street because they lost their jobs during the lockdown, or they had passed from camp to camp after law enforcement interventions to evict people, including during the most restrictive COVID-19 measures. 

Now they don't know where to spend the night because of the umpteenth forced eviction, where solutions weren't found even for the people in the most vulnerable conditions," MSF said. 

Francesca Zuccaro, MSF Rome director for COVID-19 intervention, said, "Viale Pretoriano wasn't a solution, just like this umpteenth eviction won't do anything other than cause a further splitting up of informal settlements in the city and the creation of small groups of migrants and refugees living in increasingly marginalised places." 

MSF asked for a solution for over a month and a half 

MSF was providing assistance to some people in viale Pretoriano with a team made up of a nurse, a hygiene expert, and an intercultural mediator, who identified some people with health problems, mainly tied to prolonged living on the streets. These people were reported to the dedicated health services and in some cases accompanied to necessary medical exams with specialists. 

MSF said most of the people who were living at the informal settlement had stay permits, "often expired and not renewed due to a lack of the necessary administrative requirements, such as residency." 

"Others had pending appeals, delayed because of public office closures due to the epidemic," MSF said. 

It said that for the past month and a half it has been telling authorities in Rome about the critical health and sanitary conditions at the settlement, and asking for solutions adapted to individuals, to interrupt the senseless cycle of evictions without solutions. 

"More than ever, forced evictions to remove informal settlements - without providing alternative housing solutions aimed at stable social integration - need to be avoided on a local and national level," MSF said. ()

 

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