Italy has launched its first official attempt to collect information on Roma immigrants living in ramshackle camps outside many towns and cities. The controversial census began at Corviale, a poor camp to the southwest of Rome.
Massimo Barra is the President of the Italian Red Cross: “The Italian Red Cross has nothing to do with fingerprints, nothing to do with it. We are here only for humanitarian purposes, to get in touch with these people, who have always been marginalised, stigmatised and discriminated. We want to know each of them, to help each of them.”
The Red Cross says some 50 people live in the camp, in makeshift shelters, in unhealthy conditions. There was no obligation on the Roma to register; only volunteers turned up.
Silvio Berlusconi’s government says the census is vital for security, as many Italians blame the illegal immigrants for a rise in crime. But the EU has condemned it as a clear case of racial discrimination.