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Italy: Dismantling of illegal camp divides Milan's leaders

Italy, 11.4.2008 10:14, (Roma Daily News)

Italy's controversial relationship with the Roma community has been further exacerbated after one of their camps was dismantled in the northern city of Milan.The Via Bovisasca camp is thought to be the biggest in northern Italy. Hundreds of migrants were removed from the camp and it was destroyed by local government authorities on Tuesday.

The mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti strongly defended her city's policies on the Roma or gypsy migrants after the city's archbishop, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, said the camp dwellers' human rights had been violated.In an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Moratti said there was a health-risk in the camp.

"Arsenic, asbestos and hazardous metals are present and the provincial health board requested the ousting of the camp dwellers," she told the newspaper.In the interview, Moratti said that according to local police, the migrants had wanted to return to Romania.

The Roma are an ethnic group that originated from India and then spread into Europe in a diaspora dating back almost 1,000 years.A recent Italian report said they face discrimination in employment, housing and education and are reportedly regular victims of racial violence.

Following the dismantling of the camp, Tettamanzi criticised Moratti for violating the human rights of the migrants."I am profoundly saddened by the words of the cardinal," responded the mayor.

This week the city of Milan won the competition to host the 2015 Universal Exposition, considered the world's biggest fair.It will reportedly bring billions of dollars in investment and infrastructure to Italy's financial capital.

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