Rome is looking into the confiscated buildings after police officers were criticized last week for using water cannons against asylum-seekers.
ROME — Rome authorities are looking into whether buildings confiscated from the mafia can be used to house migrants, a move that comes after police were criticized for the violent clashes that erupted as they tried to evacuate a building occupied by asylum-seekers.
Mayor Virginia Raggi said city officials were mapping out the confiscated real estate to determine if any buildings were suitable for temporary housing.
Rome officers used water cannons against asylum-seekers last week. The migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Ethiopia, had camped out on a central piazza after being evicted from a building they had occupied since 2013.
Police said the raids were necessary because the migrants had cooking- gas canisters and other flammable materials.
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The U.N. refugee agency denounced the evictions, especially when adequate alternative housing arrangements weren’t provided.
Raggi defended the police action Tuesday and said the city wouldn’t tolerate illegal squatters. She estimated that squatters had occupied about 100 buildings around the capital.
Raggi said she had tried to improve the situation, but her year-old administration has been unable to make good on many campaign pledges to fix Rome’s worsening public services, from garbage pileups to potholes.
A group of 33 Syrian refugees arrived Tuesday at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport, courtesy of a Christian initiative to provide refugees with humanitarian visas and safe passage to Italy as an alternative to risky boat trips from Libya.