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Refugees In Italy Are Giving What Little Money They Have To Help Earthquake Victims

Rescuers make their way through destroyed houses following an earthquake in Pescara Del Tronto, central Italy. AP PHOTO/GREGORIO BORGIA
Rescuers make their way through destroyed houses following an earthquake in Pescara Del Tronto, central Italy. AP PHOTO/GREGORIO BORGIA

In a show of solidarity this week, more than six dozen asylum seekers living in a shelter in southern Italy donated almost 200 Euros to the victims of central Italy’s deadly earthquake.

The 75 asylum seekers, who are given small personal allowances of about 2.50 Euros a day, wanted to give back to a country where they have felt welcomed.

According to Buzzfeed, the money is equivalent to “each of them giving up one day’s worth of the 17.50-euro allowance they receive each week.”

‘We’re trying to figure out how to help asylum seekers to make the payment and to whom it would like to emphasize this small but significant gesture of support among the people, from those who felt welcomed in Italy and wants to somehow reciprocate the solidarity,” Giovanni Maiolo, the shelter’s coordinator, said.

Wednesday’s early morning earthquake reduced at least three towns in central Italy to rubble and left 247 people dead.

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Italy, a “hotspot destination” for refugees because of its close proximity to North Africa, receives a large number of asylum seekers every year who cross the Mediterranean Sea and then head elsewhere in Europe. So far this year, more than 105,000 people have made the journey to Italy. Many of those arriving this year are from African countries, with 20 percent coming from Nigeria and 12 percent from Eritrea.

Though these asylum seekers may feel welcomed in Italy, many other newcomers aren’t treated well when they arrive. Last July, residents and far-right militants broke into shelters for asylum seekers and refugees in northeast Italy and set the furniture on fire, forcing 101 asylum seekers to be moved elsewhere. And a June 2016 Human Rights Watch report found that children as young as 12 are kept in overcrowded and unsafe conditions when they arrive onshore, putting them at risk of a host of issues.