African and Middle-Eastern migrants in an Italian town are protesting insufficient Wi-Fi at their settlement by dumping their garbage into the streets.
According to The Local, which cites the Italian-language La Repubblica, a group of two dozen Sub-Saharan African migrants in the town of Ceranova are outraged that a lack of free Wi-Fi at the villa they live in is preventing them from using Skype to communicate with family members back in Africa.
The protesters are also angry that the villa doesn’t have a professional cleaner to keep things tidy.
At first, the protest took the form of migrants marching in the streets and blocking traffic, but now things have escalated and the migrants have begun dumping their trash into the streets to make their point. The stunt led to a confrontation between townsfolk and the migrants, which may have become violent if not for the intervention of the local mayor along with three police officers. Afterwards, a 24-year-old migrant who led the demonstration was kicked out of the refugee facility.
The migrants have been living in Ceranova, a small town of about 1,000 people located about 15 miles south of Milan, since July. They are just a small portion of over 120,000 migrants who have arrived in Italy this year, mostly by boat from Africa.
At least one Italian is sympathetic to their demands.
“Obviously it’s very important for refugees to have access to the Internet and not just so they can stay in touch with their families,” refugee center manager Barbara Spezzi told The Local. “The Internet helps refugees keep up to date with what’s going on at home and in Italy which helps them integrate into Italian life. It’s also a great learning tool too: we had a case of a girl who was following her university lectures on YouTube.”
The stunt has become fodder for Italian politics, with members of the regionalist, anti-immigration Northern League party using it to bolster their arguments against generous refugee policies.
“They wan’t someone to clean their homes – can you believe it?” said party leader Matteo Salvani. He joked that Laura Boldrini, a socialist and president of the Chamber of Deputies (Italy’s parliament), should be sent to do the cleaning.
There have been assorted cases of migrants reacting badly to their conditions or to the actions of European authorities. Last week, for instance, Eritrean migrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa (a hub for migrants arriving from Africa) marched in protest against requirements that they be fingerprinted before being allowed to leave the island. Some have apparently even launched a hunger strike against the requirement.
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