Baobab volunteers distribute food to migrants in Rome on April 9, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Massimo Percossi
Baobab volunteers distribute food to migrants in Rome on April 9, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Massimo Percossi

Homeless migrants at a camp in Rome have been violating the night-time curfew "against their will," according to Baobab Experience. The migrant aid organization called on local authorities to find permanent housing for the migrants.

The roughly 150 migrants are staying at a camp managed by Baobab Experience in Piazzale Spadolini in Rome, near Tiburtina train station.

"They are not abiding by public security rules against their will and intention given that, clearly, they would like to find housing," said the organization, which helps homeless migrants in the area around Rome's Tiburtina train station.

The organization said the homeless are being forced to justify their presence on the street to the local administrations who are "responsible for this abandonment."

Coronavirus curfew introduced last Friday

The Lazio region (where Rome is located) imposed a night-time lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus last Friday, October 23. People have to stay at home between midnight and 5 am, according to news agency AP.

In a statement issued on October 26, Baobab called on local authorities to provide housing for homeless migrants so that their "rights are respected and [the coronavirus] is contained."

Baobab said its legal team had presented over 100 applications for housing to the municipality of Rome, to the immigration office and to central services since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. "Less than a third of the people involved obtained a place to sleep," the organization said. "The others are still waiting."

Not enough homeless shelters

Baobab Experienced accused local authorities of not doing enough to keep homeless people safe.

"With the excuse of COVID-19, which should have instead constituted a further inducement to house the homeless, the city abandoned frail people," the association said in a statement.

According to Baobab, there are usually less than 800 places available for the homeless in shelters around the capital, and this number has been reduced further due to coronavirus emergency plans. "However, there are over 8,000 homeless people in Rome," the organization said.

"The situation is so serious and concerning," Baobab said. The organization announced that it had plans to take matters into its own hand, by ''identifying and paying for the housing of people who are most in difficulty, activating protection and inclusion programs."

 

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