Italian police on Tuesday bulldozed a symbolic makeshift camp in Rome which has housed tens of thousands of migrants during their journeys to northern Italy and the rest of Europe.
“Stateless, lawless no-man’s lands will no longer be tolerated,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right League, said as diggers rumbled through the camp, run by the Baobab Experience association.
Men could be seen wheeling away their belongings in shopping trolleys, while youngsters hugged tearfully as tents were dismantled around them, according to an AFP photographer.
A cutout photo of Salvini’s head glared from the side of a rolled up mattress as a crane swept up discarded belongings in the abandoned parking lot near Rome’s two main train stations.
Around 100 migrants had been living there after leaving — voluntarily or otherwise — Italy’s reception system.
In 2015, when the borders were still open, some 35,000 migrants transited through Baobab on their way to the rest of Europe. The camp had been located in an old factory at the time.
The association was behind a protest last week against Salvini’s “inhumane, dangerous and unacceptable” security decree, which the UN’s human rights body has said conflicts with international laws on refugees and human rights.
“It’s already the 22nd time that the camp has been cleared, but I think this time it has been shut down for good,” Baobab coordinator Andrea Costa said.