Migrants flee 'deportation' as reception centre closes

Migrants on the run across Rome

ROME – Numerous migrants escaped authorities and fled across the Eternal City during their removal from the CARA, Italy's second-largest asylum seeker reception facility, located north of the city in Castelnuovo di Porto.

 Five of the escaped migrants had already received the expulsion decree but hastened away from the CARA ahead of its imminent closure on Jan. 31.

 There are two main routes being followed by fleeing foreigners, the first of which follows the bus lines to the Termini area of Rome. The second route passes through the station of Monterotondo Scalo, the closest to the reception facility from where the coaches are transferring the migrants, arriving at Tiburtina.

 In a bar overlooking Via Giolitti, Bakaru, a previous resident of the CARA recognised and approached a former roommate from the reception centre. Bakaru explained, “He does not want to talk, he does not know where to go, he's afraid they'll send him away from Italy," Il Messaggero reported.

 Until last week, the CARA housed a total of 540 people. Some 30 migrants were removed Tuesday and the operation continued Wednesday, with the removal of another 75 migrants. Some have already been transferred to centres in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata and Campania, however others left on foot, prompting concerns for their future.

 By Friday an estimated 305 migrants will have been transferred from the reception facility, but uncertainty continues to prevail about what will be done with the some 200 remaining migrants.

 Josè Manuel Torres, the parish priest of Castelnuovo di Porto, is receiving offers from other parishes in the area to accommodate a dozen people. Torres expressed his concern about “the unknown” future of these migrants, questioning “how many are there and under what conditions will they be found?”

 The closure of CARA is reportedly in compliance with the government's newly-introduced security decree, also known as the Salvini decree after Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. The controversial anti-immigration legislation removes “humanitarian protection” for those not eligible for refugee status, making it easier to expel them.

 Salvini’s get tough approach has come under much criticism by left-wing politicians and Church leaders, amid the fear that some migrants will end up living on the streets. Rossella Muroni, a member of the left-wing Free and Equal party (LeU), stood in front of a bus carrying migrants away from the centre, temporarily blocking it in protest.

 Salvini explained that migrants who have their requests for asylum granted will be allowed to stay in Italy while the others will be sent back to their home countries.The Interior Minister said that by closing such a large centre, “we will save six million euros a year," adding that this money could instead be used to “help Italians.”