Rome's Baobab Centre for Migrants Bulldozed

The season of evictions promised by Minister Matteo Salvini resumed on 13 November, when the Baobab centre in Rome was flattened, leaving hundreds homeless.

Baobab residents woken and forcefully evicted before bulldozers come in

On 13 November about 150 people – including regular immigrants who enjoy humanitarian protection, asylum seekers and people with official ID cards – were woken up by the police in the Baobab Centre in an astonishing example of aggression. People were ordered to leave, including an Italian family.

The Baobab Centre, a tent camp for migrants in transit, was set up by volunteers from the Baobab Experience in 2015. Since then, the camp has been an important gathering point for migrants.

The immigrants – who until then had been sleeping in tents in the area – collected their belongings and were taken out to the street one-by-one by the police before the camp was demolished.

Minister Salvini promises fresh evictions

No alternative housing solution had been found for those living in the Baobab Centre. Many of the migrants were taken to the Rome immigration office while the bulldozers began to demolish the tents that housed them.

Minister Salvini said that by the end of the year in Rome there will be evictions for which people have been waiting for years. "We want to restore legality in the districts", Salvini commented.

In these actions there seems to be a deliberate urge to do violence to the poorest people in Italian society. Actions like this denote a desire to crush the poorest individuals, leaving them without rights.

People left with nowhere to sleep

The Baobab Centre provided accommodation to people who, as a result of the regulations of the new Security Decree, had been obliged to leave the SPRAR system, which was aimed at protecting people fleeing persecution in other countries, but can now only provide help to refuges, not asylum seekers.

Bulldozing the Centre does not solve the problem. Demolishing the Baobab left more than a hundred people on the street and many without a place to sleep.

The end of the Baobab could be detrimental to the whole city, as Rome has not proved able to welcome migrants in a dignified manner. Rome has no hub for people in transit and for those migrants who have arrived in the city, but want to leave to other destinations, often to other countries.