Riot police with water cannons in Rome clashed with stone-throwing migrants at a makeshift camp where they protested the eviction of hundreds of refugees from a building they have occupied for 5 years. MSF calls the stand-off “indiscriminate use of violence.”
Scuffles broke out in central Rome early Thursday, as officers tried to squeeze out around a hundred refugees from Independence Square, which they have occupied since the weekend. Police in riot gear deployed water cannon against the migrants, who used pepper spray and threw stones and bottles at the officers, La Reppublica reports. Two people were arrested, according to Reuters.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says that at least six people have been injured. On its Twitter feed, the organization said the “indiscriminate use of violence” followed the eviction, without specifically blaming the police or protesters.
Police, citing the risk that some refugees had gas cylinders and flammable liquids, say force was used in order to remove them from the square, which they refused to do. Protesters have camped inside an office building for the past five years, and have defied an eviction order since last week.According to Italian media, the refugees refused to accept the housing proposed by the municipality yesterday.
On Saturday, 500 police officers cleared the Palazzo Curtatone building, where around 800 refugees, mostly from Eritrea and Ethiopia, had lived since 2013. According to IlPost, the migrants were not offered alternative lodging immediately after the eviction. As hundreds of displaced had to sleep on the pavements outside the building, the authorities allowed women and children into the first floor, Reuters reports.
With most of the squatters being granted asylum in Italy, banners reading “We are refugees, not terrorists” or “We are not terrorists. We want a house to live in” were hung on the building.
“This is a very sad situation: we are talking about 800 people with refugee status, survivors of wars, persecution or torture, which in some cases have also obtained Italian citizenship, thrown into the streets in inhuman conditions without a real sustainable alternative by the city of Rome, which we have in vain expected in the square,” UNICEF Italy spokesman Andrea Iacovini wrote in a Facebook post.
Source : RT