Milan to house immigrants in Expo base camp

Probably around 150 from next week.

As the city’s reception facilities for immigrants become “saturated”, as Mayor Beppe Sala put it, Milan authorities have been forced to override opposition objections and open the Expo Milan 2015 “base camp” to house them. The first 150 are scheduled to arrive there next week.

The structure, originally built as accommodation for Expo workers and police during last year’s universal exposition, is located in Rho less than a kilometre from the Expo grounds and can house up to 500 people.

It was used briefly to house immigrants in March, but the experiment was discontinued after local residents protested. Now, despite opposition also from the mayor of Rho, central government has agreed to Sala’s proposal to try again after he pointed out that Milan can no longer cope with the number of immigrants arriving here, either sent by the interior ministry or arriving spontaneously.

The refugee centre in Via Sammartini, the 400 places in the camp at Bresso and another 200 in Via Aquila are all full. “We are looking at other solutions,” said Sala, “like the structure in Via Corelli or the former barracks in Baggio. The prefect is checking them out, because more refugees are arriving than we had planned for and we need to be ready to accept considerable numbers of them.

“But what has changed radically since last year,” Sala added, “is that while they were then in transit, this year many want to stay.”

Prefect Alessandro Marangoni, the local representative of central government, has pleaded for government officials – in particular from the interior ministry – to come to Milan and see the situation for themselves.

Meanwhile, city hall has appealed for donations, in particular items for personal hygiene and for children, as the city is a temporary home for some 2,700 migrants and refugees, many of them children.

Among the items urgently required are single bed sheets, shower curtains, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shower gel (preferably in mini doses), sport and summer clothing for men and kids, soap and neutral shampoos for newborn children, and baby food and powdered milk.

A collection centre will be open Friday 8 July afternoon and all day Saturday in the reception centre at Via Sammartini 122, where donors can arrive by car.