Migrants hiding in the woods between the municipalities of Ventimiglia and Olivetta San Michele in Italy | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/CHIARA CARENINI
Migrants hiding in the woods between the municipalities of Ventimiglia and Olivetta San Michele in Italy | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/CHIARA CARENINI

The Hobbit Bar in Italy's northern Ventimiglia had become a popular spot for migrants and refugees passing throughout the region, providing emergency help on the spot to hundreds of people. It will now be closing after two decades in operation, as COVID regulations have made it impossible to owner Delia Bonuomo to sustain her bar.

After 20 years of operating in the Italian border city of Ventimiglia, the famous Hobbit Bar is now due to close. The bar became an icon of the humanitarian emergency in the area over the past few years thanks to its owner Delia Bonuomo, who migrants have dubbed 'Mama Africa.'

Bonuomo gave assistance, food and hospitality to hundreds of migrants and refugees - especially women and children trying to cross the border from Italy to France.

"I was forced to close for health reasons, but COVID and the Green Pass policy were the final blow" to the bar, she explained, referring to Italy's COVID vaccination pass program.

"How can I tell a woman, who possibly might be pregnant after suffering a terrible trip or after surviving abuse that she can't sit at a table? Almost all the migrants who cross the border are unvaccinated and don't even know what a Green Pass is".

Uncertain future

Since 2015, Bonuomo provided a point of reference for the many foreigners whom she offered a 'cappuccino' and, most importantly, a place to rest and get fresh clothes. She received a great deal of solidarity from many aid organizations.

"I hope to open again in March, if my health allows it. But I will have to find a smaller venue," she said looking forward.

 

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