Article published today in the Italian Insider:
Naples solidarity overwhelms refugee centre
By Florence Brock
NAPLES — Just hours after 50 non-accompanied minors aboard the “Bruno Gregoretti” settled into The City of Naples’ San Francesco d’Assisi poly-functional centre in Marechiaro, officials had to close its front gates for the city’s overwhelming show of solidarity.
Too often stereotyped by clichés that pin the Parthenope city down as a criminal haven with its far west camorra shootouts and petty thieves ready to pickpocket tourists at every street corner, the city can now be tagged as one of the most generous and welcoming.
Bags and boxes full of clothes, bedding and personal care items flooded into the centre from the very moment the newly docked teenage boys were designated to their temporary new home.
In a Europe ready to build walls and enforce immigration quotas, Naples sets an example by showing that there is indeed a part of Europe that stills cares.
Led by Director Amalia Colucci, the city centre for Political Services to Minors, Children and Adolescents unexpectedly found itself drowned with calls and eager contributors in attempts to ease the already difficult circumstances surrounding the boys’ arrival in the country.
“We’ve been busy running around since the immigrants’ arrival here at 1 am. The phones have been ringing off the hook and people have been dropping off clothes, shoes, towels and essential items like toothbrushes, shaving cream and toilet paper non-stop,” said Donatella Perrini on duty in the afternoon. “We’ve received so many donations we’ve had to start saying no. There’s no more space.” She also added that “many have even tried making money donations but we cannot accept any.”
After being salvaged off the Libyan Coast, the ship with the teenagers aboard arrived at pier 21 of the Parthenope port in the early morning of Oct. 23. It was transporting a total of 470 passengers, including immigrants from North Africa, Central Africa, Eritrea, Somaliland, Bangladesh, Syria and Afghanistan.
In a welcome crew of over 1,000 workers and volunteers, the refugees were efficiently examined and divided into packs, and sent to various Campania help centres located in Naples, Caserta and Salerno.
As none of the 50 passengers were accompanied by an adult, each is legally entitled to an automatic permit to stay and will be integrated into European society. Immediate intervention has been given by city police represented by the Minors Protection office, coordinated by Captain Sabina Pagnano, and supported by Barbara Trupiano from Roberta Gaeta’s Welfare Department.
In a residential complex composed of large gardens, a courtyard and much outdoor green space, the new guests at the Marechiaro centre seem protected from the real world they soon must face.