“Palace of Squatters Is a Symbol of Refugee Crisis”
The New York Times, June 15, 2014, p.A6
“On a recent evening, two volunteer doctors and a handful of medical students moved gingerly around a dimly lit room, examining dozens of newly arrived migrants from the Horn of Africa. The medics treated blotchy arms, legs and feet — symptoms of scabies — lighting the infected areas with a smartphone app. Nearby, a pediatrician listened to the chests of newborns and toddlers. The impromptu clinic was set up in an abandoned building on the outskirts of Rome, colloquially known as Salaam Palace, where hundreds of migrants have squatted for years. Europe’s quickening migration crisis has now left the place overflowing, with most new arrivals relegated to an underground parking garage, sleeping on soiled mattresses on the ground. The overcrowding of Salaam Palace is a crisis within a larger, nationwide emergency set off by a fresh surge of more than 50,000 migrants to Italy since the beginning of the year — more already than in all of 2013. The inflow has severely taxed Italy’s resources, spawning miniature Salaam Palaces in cities across the country as asylum seekers are distributed to refugee centers, hotels and makeshift dormitories. … Over the last weekend alone, the Italian authorities recovered three bodies and rescued more than 5,400 people, most crossing the Mediterranean from Libya in overcrowded, rickety boats run by people smugglers. … Few migrants voluntarily ask for asylum in Italy, but rather hope to continue to northern Europe, making Salaam Palace a way station for some, and a permanent home for others forced to remain in the country as a result of the European Union’s so-called Dublin regulation. Intended to discourage multiple asylum claims, the rule calls for asylum seekers to request refugee status in the first member state they enter.”
Quickie Analysis: An update on Italy’s refugee crisis.