Rome eyes buildings confiscated from mafia to house migrants

ROME — Rome authorities are looking into whether buildings confiscated from the mafia can be used to house migrants, a move that comes after police were criticized for the violent clashes that erupted as they tried to evacuate a building occupied by asylum-seekers.

Mayor Virginia Raggi said city officials were mapping out the confiscated real estate to determine if any buildings were suitable for temporary housing. A first census of the 200,000 potentially available apartments is due by Oct. 31, Raggi said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

Rome authorities and police have come under withering criticism after officers used water cannons against asylum-seekers last week. The migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Ethiopia, had camped out on a central piazza after being evicted from a building they had occupied since 2013.

Police said the raids were necessary because the migrants had cooking gas canisters and other flammable materials.

The U.N. refugee agency denounced the evictions, especially when adequate alternative housing arrangements weren’t provided.

Raggi defended the police action Tuesday and said the city wouldn’t tolerate illegal squatters. She estimated that squatters had occupied about 100 buildings around the capital.

Raggi insisted she had worked to improve the situation, but her year-old administration has been unable to make…

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