Rome mayor backtracks over migrant remarks

500 migrants evicted in Rebibbia amid Raggi moratorium controversy.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi has backtracked on her controversial call for a moratorium of new migrants arriving in the capital, after Italy's interior minister Marco Minniti denied there was an emergency and said that the province of Rome had space for 2,000 new migrants.

Raggi followed Minniti's response by stating that Rome would “do its part”, adding that the "reception of the most fragile is above all a moral duty which must, however, be implemented with clear rules and in a controlled manner."

Minniti's remarks were blasted by Raggi's Movimento 5 Stelle colleague Luigi Di Maio who said the minister did not understand the “serious emergency” and was “not in the real world.” Raggi's initial call for a moratorium was rounded on by the Partito Democratico (PD) party of ex-premier Matteo Renzi but welcomed by the anti-immigrant Lega Nord and the neo-fascist organisation Casa Pound.

The mayor's moratorium request on 13 June also coincided with the eviction of around 500 migrants from two occupied buildings on Via di Vannino east of Rebbibia, in the far eastern suburbs of Rome.

The migrants, many of them families with very young children, were reportedly removed from the privately-owned warehouses by police carrying out an “anti-terrorism operation.”

Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman at UNHCR SouthEurope, tweeted on 14 June: “#Roma I've been informed that up to 500 migrants/refugees, many children, evicted from a building. Zero assistance is there for them.”

Aid agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Baobab, alongside private citizens in Rome, are currently organising relief for the migrants who are stranded in an area with no drinking water and without any apparent assistance from the city.