The Italian Ministry of the Interior (Palazzo del Viminale), Source: The Italian Ministry of the Interior

Italy to house Ukrainian refugees in former mafia properties

Italy to house Ukrainian refugees in former mafia properties

The idea was reported by the country’s Interior Ministry

Yesterday, 7 March, the Italian Ministry of the Interior announced that a process had been started to identify and prepare properties that had been confiscated from mafia operations with a view to converting them to temporary refugee housing centres. The news comes in the context of the increasingly growing flow of people running from the war in Ukraine as the conflict there intensifies.

Rethinking the use of municipal properties

Luciana Lamorgese, the Minister of the Interior, explained on the occasion: “The National Agency for the administration and destination of assets seized and confiscated from organized crime has started the census of confiscated assets under management that can be quickly destined, even temporarily, to welcome refugees from Ukraine.

According to Statista, in the span of one year alone (August 2020 – July 2021) the Italian police had seized 1.9 billion euros worth of assets from organized crime groups in the country, in addition to 1.7 billion euros worth of assets that had been confiscated. In terms of numbers, that was roughly 8,800 assets seized and 4,200 confiscated.

Among them are properties and structures that are suitable for habitation and thus could be transformed into refugee housing facilities.

"With the collaboration of the prefectures the Agency directed by the Prefect Corda will also identify the properties transferred to the Municipalities but not yet used, suitable for use in the protection network put in place for to face the humanitarian emergency," concluded the minister, underlining that "the commitment of the Ministry of the Interior is maximum to give concrete answers to those fleeing the theatre of war and above all to the most vulnerable people, such as women and children".

The Interior Ministry says that 17,286 Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have arrived in Italy since the Russian military launched an offensive on 24 February.

Although most of these refugees have sought refuge with relatives and friends, there are reportedly private and public efforts in the country to arrange shelters for many. “This is just the beginning. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are coming. We must rise to the occasion,” Democrat leader Enrico Letta commented on Monday.



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