Hundreds of citizens in the northern Italian city of Trieste signed an open letter asking authorities to guarantee shelter to asylum seekers who live on the city's streets.
"An unidentified but high number of asylum seekers live day and night on Piazza Libertà [Freedom Square]" and in the surrounding areas."
"They are looking for a place to seek refuge from the cold and the rain in the complete indifference of the institutions which should be placing these people in emergency shelters."
These are some of the phrases from an open letter addressed to the Prefect of the northern Italian city of Trieste, Annunziato Vardè, and to the mayor Roberto Dipiazza. It was signed by over 570 citizens.
"This is not about setting up new living structures from scratch, but about quickly identifying appropriate places to guarantee these people shelter from the cold while waiting to receive their fixed location or the long-awaited departure," the letter reads.
Among the letter's signatories are actress Ariella Reggio, journalist Paolo Rumiz, film screenwriter Nicoletta Romeo, cardiologist Andrea Di Lenarda, Slovenian historian Marta Verginella and many others.
'Norms were violated'
In the letter, the signatories also claim that the government and local authorities' actions violates Italian law.
The letter claims that the government has not assigned the city of Trieste "sufficient economic support to allow the transfer of the asylum seekers to other locations in Italy." They also claim that the local Prefecture, which comes under the auspices of the Italian Interior Ministry, should have acted faster to temporarily relocate asylum seekers while they were waiting to be transferred to a shelter in Trieste. The letter highlights that these problems were already visible in July this year.
Moreover, the letter claims that there has been a lack of coordination between the regional govenrment and the municipal authority in identifying and opening up suitable temporary shelters for migrants and asylum seekers who might be sleeping rough.
The letter lists several large buildings across the city which could be used to offer space inside for asylum seekers and migrants who will soon need shelter against the cold of the coming winter.