Italy uses water canon to evict defenseless refugeesPublished Posted on | By TZTA News
Italian riot police turned a water cannon on Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants in Rome on Thursday, scattering them from a piazza where they had camped for five days after being evicted from a building where they had been squatting for several years.
Migrants threw bottles and gas canisters at the police, but were driven back by the water jet in Piazza Indipendenza, yards from Rome’s central Termini station. Among the migrants bowled over by the water was a woman walking with a crutch.
The clash reflected Italy’s increasingly hard line on migrants. About 400,000 have arrived since 2014, mostly sailing from Libya.
Almost all of the evicted migrants had reportedly received refugee status, or a similar form of protection, prompting protesters and aid groups to claim the eviction and the police operation proved Rome is abandoning migrants it had provided with asylum.
“In Germany and Sweden, refugees get help with housing. Here in Italy, you get evicted,” said Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest who assists migrants in Italy.
In the lead-up to the clashes, 800 Eritreans and Ethiopians were evicted on Saturday from an empty office building on Piazza Indipendenza that had been occupied by migrants since 2013.
Around 100 set up camp with their suitcases on the grass in the piazza outside the building. Early on Thursday, police arrived and turned their water cannon on the group.