Democracy & Justice

100 Without Shelter After Another Eviction in Rome

The police evacuated a building in Rome without first securing alternative shelter for those who were evicted.

by Giulia Buosi

Another large-scale eviction occurred Rome on 21 March, when roughly 100 men and women migrants from Africa were forced out of their shelter on Via Vannina, in the eastern part of Rome.

Although the building suffers from poor sanitary conditions, it had been promised as a shelter for the migrants for two years. Despite this, neither the residents nor migrant aid groups were given warning that the eviction would occur, a violation of Interior Ministry regulations.

Eviction and identification

Early in the morning the police drove the people out of the building and took the majority of the occupants to an immigration office to identify them.

Only 20 boys, all with a regular residence permit, remained at the Vannina building and were allowed to recover their personal belongings.

According to police officers, the eviction was requested by the owner of the building, who has already retaken possession of it and hired a private surveillance service to guard it.

Still no shelter

However, A Buon Diritto Onlus, Alterego – Fabbrica dei diritti, Be free, Intersos, Medici per i diritti umani – MEDU and WILPF – Italia have discovered that the eviction was carried out only by police officers and there were no workers present from Sala Operativa Sociale (SOS), a public service that plays an essential role in these situations.

SOS was established in 2002 in order to more appropriately handle social emergencies that occur in the city by using individualized approaches to effectively respond to people in difficulty.

It is not clear whether SOS had been forewarned of this eviction; what is known is that it was able to find alternative shelter only for a few of the evicted people who had been reported as being the most vulnerable.

All the other people were offered no alternative shelter.

All this happened despite an internal regulation of the Ministry of the Interior, adopted in September 2017 following the traumatic eviction of Piazza Indipendenza. The regulation requires authorities to have in place plans for alternative shelter and social assistance before proceeding with an eviction.

The Piazza Indipendenza eviction was particularly dramatic. Over a hundred immigrants objected to the eviction and confronted the police, throwing stone and bottles and cans. There were some arrests and several people were hurt.

No long-lasting solution found

As early as June 2017, the police had already carried out evictions of two nearby addresses, 74 and 78 Via Vannina, which together were occupied by about 300 migrants. While the building at number 74 was immediately put under private surveillance, number 78 was again occupied until the end of March, due to the lack of alternative housing options for the evicted people.

Although the operation seems to have taken place without incident, it is the eviction itself and the lack of alternative solutions that show the real problem: the lack of a planning and creation of a long-lasting solution to address these situations of social marginality.

As long as there is no concrete plan to avoid these situations, people will be forced to occupy buildings and to live in fear of being evicted.

Long-lasting solutions need to be found in order to meet housing needs. This is the only way to ensure that everybody's dignity and human rights are respected.