CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 September 2017

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Police blamed over stoush with refugees

ROME (CNS): Violence erupted in Rome when police attempted to clear around 100 mostly Eritreans and Ethiopians with official refugee status from a square near the main Roma Termini railway station on August 24.
 
Police claim they were forced to use water cannons after people started throwing things at them and hitting them with sticks.
 
On August 19, some 800 refugees had been evicted from an abandoned building nearby, where they had be sheltering since 2013.
 
While Caritas Rome said that although something needs to be done about the building, as living conditions inside are dangerous and unhygienic, “The way in which this happened, without any planning and acting as if it was an emergency, could do nothing other than lead to the escalation we saw this morning.”
 
The Catholic charity said that while the government does have an obligation to find safe and dignified housing for the refugees, that the way the police went about clearing the square led to violence.
 
Doctors Without Borders, which has had a medical team in the square since August 19, said 13 refugees were treated for injuries and five of them were sent to hospital by ambulance after the police action on August 24.
 
Humanitarian groups said the refugees had refused to leave the square because they wanted to stay close to their families—the roughly 100 women, children and elderly people that the police had allowed to remain inside the derelict building.
 
Caritas said, “Because of the high number of people involved, the presence of children and family groups, and the history of suffering and violence these people have endured, an intervention of this kind required specific social interventions” as part of a larger programme regarding emergency and long-term housing for at-risk populations in the city.
 
“Unfortunately, as the Mafia Capitale (city officials giving organised-crime rings contracts to provide city services, including housing refugees) facts demonstrate, these policies have been lacking in our city for years and groups and organisations profit from it,” it concluded.

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