Migrants protest conditions at 2 asylum centers in Italy

ROME — Italian police early Tuesday quelled a protest by occupants of a migrant center near Venice that left fearful workers at the center barricaded inside offices.

Carabinieri paramilitary police in Chioggia, about 45 miles east of the Cona migrant center, said the protest ended peacefully after a few hours.

Some migrants told Italian television they were protesting the alleged delay in medical assistance Monday for an ill 25-year-old woman from Ivory Coast. She died shortly after an ambulance arrived.


The Italian news agency ANSA quoted a Venice prosecutor as saying an autopsy found a pulmonary blood clot caused the woman’s death.

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Italian state radio said 25 workers locked themselves inside offices when the migrants allegedly set fires outside the center. No one was reported injured, and the protest ended after police intervened.

The migrant center in a former military barracks houses more than 1,000 asylum seekers, many of them Africans who arrived in Italy after paying migrant smugglers for perilous journeys from Libya on unseaworthy, overcrowded fishing boats or dinghies.

Il Sole-24 Ore radio said that before the unrest, the center’s management was being investigated for allegations of fraud and maltreatment.

Cona, a town of some 3,000 residents, is one of many Italian locations hosting migrants while asylum requests are processed. Some 180,000 migrants were rescued at sea and brought ashore to Italy in 2016, and many towns have complained they cannot handle more placements.


Later Tuesday, a group of asylum seekers in Verona, also in northeast Italy, overturned trash bins and briefly blocked traffic to protest the poor conditions at the center where they are being housed.

Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi urged national authorities to exclude the protest’s organizers from protection programs.

In Spain, officials said guards on the border of Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in North Africa, recently detained one Moroccan suspected of attempting to smuggle migrants concealed in a suitcase and another suspected of hiding migrants in a car.

Customs agents found a 19-year-old migrant from Gabon hidden in a suitcase pushed on a trolley by a woman who tried to cross the land border from Morocco on Dec. 30, said a spokesman for the Guardia Civil in Ceuta.

The 22-year-old Moroccan woman raised suspicions by trying to avoid security checks. When officials asked her to open the luggage, they found the man curled up in the poorly ventilated space.


On Monday, border police found two more migrants hidden in false compartments built into a car arriving from Morocco. The migrants, both from Guinea, were found when the vehicle was stopped for an inspection as it entered Ceuta.

In a separate development Tuesday, Germany’s interior minister proposed a security shake-up that could include creating ‘‘federal departure centers’’ to ease the deportation of rejected asylum-seekers and centralizing the country’s domestic intelligence agency.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere’s suggestions in a guest article in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung followed last month’s attack on a Berlin Christmas market.