Angry African migrants protest in Italy after a factory fire left them homeless and killed a Somalian man

Riot police were needed to control crowds of angry migrants last week at the Office of Regional Authorities in Florence, Italy. The migrants were protesting after a fire on January 11th burned down an abandoned factory owned by the Aiazzone furniture company. Somalian, Ethiopian, and Eritrean people, many of them legal immigrants, had been living inside factory when the fire broke out. The fire is believed to have been caused by someone lighting a fire to keep warm or from a short circuit. A Somalian man who ran back into the burning factory to retrieve his identification papers died in the blaze.

On January 12 protesting migrants clashed with authorities and impeded bus traffic by sitting in the streets while they demanded a solution to their plight. Protesters blamed the Italian government for the death of the Somali man who died in the fire the night before. The protest was organized by Movimento di Lotta per la Casa. (…Leftists.)

Police attempted to evict people living in the factory in January 2016. That attempt, however, was met with stone-throwing and protests.

For years African migrants have been exploiting routes to reach Europe from North Africa through the Mediterranean sea. The situation is bad enough that Italy is considering making a deal with Libya (despite the country being deeply divided politically) to keep migrants from using the war-torn country as a launching pad for their Mediterranean adventures. According to Stratfor 180 000 people have used the North Africa-to-Italy migrant route via the Mediterranean in 2016.

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