The former penicillin factory where migrants are now living | Credit: Alterego Fabbrica dei Diritti
The former penicillin factory where migrants are now living | Credit: Alterego Fabbrica dei Diritti

Migrants who have been occupying empty buildings in Rome are living in terrible conditions, according to a report called, "Leaving the Ghetto," ("Uscire dal Ghetto"). The report was written by several associations working in the capital and described these migrants as being isolated and marginalized from Italian society.

The migrants, who first occupied buildings on Via di Vannina and later moved to a former penicillin factory on Via Tiburtina, are living in "a cage of isolation and marginality." The building is dilapidated and is situated in the outer suburbs of the Italian capital. The migrants are surviving there in a state of "legal, and existential precariousness, with inadequate housing and no work"  due to "the ineffectiveness of the institutional reception system" and "unequal procedures" of Rome's immigration office. 

The criticism was leveled by the associations, Alterego Fabbrica dei Diritti, A Buon Diritto, Medu, Be Free and WILPF, in a report entitled "Uscire dal Ghetto" ("Leaving the Ghetto") which was based on reasearch on the legal, healthcare and employment assistance that was being offered to the migrants who were occupying the building at Via di Vannina 78. The asylum seekers were most recently evicted on March 21, after several previous evictions last year.

Precarious living conditions 

The associations want to highlight the fact that the issues faced by the migrants occupying buildings at Via di Vannina 74 and 78, are "emblematic of the serious and unresolved problems with the Italian migrant reception system." Over 100 people, "all non-European citizens, most of whom are legally residing" in Italy, had moved into the buildings in 2014. In June 2017, the two buildings, which by that stage were occupied by about 500 people, "underwent a violent eviction operation." 

The associations said that, before the evictions that forced people "to camp out in the streets," the living conditions inside the buildings "were extremely precarious," with many rats, trash, lack of bathrooms and the presence of asbestos. 

The report said that many of the inhabitants in Via di Vannina had initially been part of a reception process, but that it had ended up being "inadequate," and that after their initial reception period the migrants had been left "without any resources to be able to go forward autonomously and with dignity" in integrating into Italian society. 

The associations also said that many of the migrants were forced to live in these conditions because their residence permits were not renewed. This was due to the migrants not having an official residence. 

The dilapidated penicillin factory 

The report said that the evictions in June 2017 and March 2018 "occurred without drawing up an alternative solution" for the building's occupants. This meant that "most of those evicted were forced to seek shelter in an enormous industrial shed, the disused 'Fabbrica della Penicillina,'" where the associations say that 500 people are now living. 

The building is "dilapidated and has chemical residue, abandoned hazardous waste and rats." The report said that, given the situation, "there needs to be an immediate acceptance of responsibility by all the institutions involved, in order to quickly draw up an evacuation plan from the shed." 

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