Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened to shut down Italy’s airports to prevent Germany from flying in migrants. Meanwhile, Denmark announced that it would not accept its EU quota of migrants for 2018.
Instead of housing refugees into segregated reception centres, the mayor contacted the Italian emigrants to open their old homes. At its peak, the town of 1,500 hosted 500 refugees and asylum seekers from 20 countries.
Protesters believe the investigation against Lucano to be political, and came to express solidarity with the mayor and the idea he represents.
The mayor was put under house arrest October 2 as the state accuses him of facilitating “marriages of convenience”.
In a wiretapped conversation, he’s heard talking about ways of obtaining a residency permit for a Nigerian woman who has been denied international protection three times. He is also accused of irregularities in allocating contracts for rubbish collection services run by refugees.
The arrest came after a year-long investigation into the management of funds for refugees in the town, which saw the mayor investigated for racketeering, embezzlement and fraud, alongside 31 others. A preliminary examination judge did not find enough evidence to support those charges.
Riace’s history with refugees starts in 1998, when more than 200 Kurds arrived on its rugged beach on the Ionic coast and were spontaneously hosted by residents. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA
Morsal is 17 and from Afghanistan. She arrived via Turkey and the Mediterranean seven years ago and now goes to school and speaks perfect Italian. The banner she”s writing in preparation for the demonstration reads ‘We are all Mimmo Lucano.’ YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA
A virtuous circle was established in Riace as jobs were created for refugees and locals alike, the first employed in local handicrafts, and the second in activities like language teaching. For the past few weeks, artisan shops in town have been shut in protest to the town not receiving funding for the past two years. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA