CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Italy orders closure of refugee centre

ROME (Agencies): Christian leaders, local government officials and humanitarian organisations raised a cry in late January after Italy’s anti-immigration interior minister, Matteo Salvini, ordered the closure of the Centre for Asylum Seekers at Castelnuovo di Porto, 24 kilometres north of Rome, CNS reported on Jasnuary 23. 
 
Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass at the center in 2016 and washed the feet of refugees. 
 
The first 30 asylum-seekers out of 500 were transferred out on January 22. 
 
“Lives frayed once again. Souls, now with bags on their backs, treated like postal packages,” is how the Italian bishops’ daily newspaper, Avvenire, described the scene. 
 
The Guardian reported on January 23 that Salvini claimed the centre, which has hosted about 8,000 people over the last eight years, was a den for “drug-dealing and crime” and that the 2,000 people living in the sprawling Cara di Mineo reception centre in Sicily and at similar structures across Italy wuld soon meet the same fate.
 
The article also reported Castelnuovo di Porto’s mayor as saying that no notice was given of the evictions and that men, women and children—many already enrolled in school—were separated and bussed to undisclosed locations.
 
“In a single day, they managed to destroy years of work. These were people who had managed to become integrated,” The Guardian reported Traviglini as saying. 

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