Vitulano says no to refugees with a wall, then bargains

 NAPLES -- After issuing a city order, Mayor Raffaele Scarinzi of Vitulano, in the province Benevento, had a physical barricade built, stopping refugees from reaching the holiday farmhouse designated as a reception centre (habitable for a maximum of 12 people).

 Exasperated by the growing numbers of arriving migrants, Democratic Party mayor Scarinzi decided to bar off the centre’s only public access with a low dirt wall on Monday, denying access to over 30 arriving refugees.

 With a population totalling less than 3,000 people, the small town in the province of Benevento already takes part in SPRAR (protection system for asylum and refugee seekers) and is currently hosting 30 migrants.

 Receiving word that the Prefecture would be sending them immigrants after the nearby centre Madonna della Salute di Benevento had been closed last Friday made the mayor put his foot firmly down.

 The failed attempt by authorities to transfer the almost three dozen refugees opened up the bargaining table between the Benevento mayor and the prefecture, eventually arriving at a compromise and agreeing to take in 12 of the 34 asylum seekers.

 “We are not racists,” clarified Scarinzi, “but we want the government to respect the rules; as we already host 30 refugees in our SPRAR centre, we cannot welcome anymore.”

 While the town's bars are full of approval for the position taken by their elected leader, Mayor of Benevento Clemente Mastella criticised his fellow administrator in a letter to Prefect Paola Galeone: “The method in which the assignment of the 34 migrants was revoked as a result of Mayor of Vitulano, Raffaele Scarinzi and his forceful show of reluctance is unacceptable,” he wrote to solicit an ‘equal distribution’ of asylum seekers.

 “More than 400 migrants (of which 60 are in the SPRAR system), are hosted on this territory which is notably higher than the agreed upon 2,5 people per 1000 inhabitants by the Anci-Ministry agreement,” he continues “to which the City of Benevento should add 162 refugees, without considering the foreigners in Contrada Epitaffio (with the additional refused refugees from Vitulano). The situation could become explosive. That’s why we need to intervene with urgency,” he concludes.  

 “At the moment, Vitulano is still the temporary home to the thirty immigrants who have been there since 2013 as a part of SPRAR that our city manages on behalf of the Internal Ministry,” reported Scarinzi to ANSA yesterday.