The residents of Ventimiglia, a town in northern Italy just 5 miles from the border with France, has taken in hundreds of African migrants who are seeking passage north. Public health officials and local government authorities are burdened, not only with feeding more than 600 migrants daily but also a recent outbreak of chickenpox.
In recent days, approximately 70 migrants have been vaccinated against chickenpox. They are being housed in the church of St. Anthony parish in the Italian town.
Local health authorities are looking into a possible case of tuberculosis at the Bordighera hospital.
According to reports, at least three volunteers working for Caritas – the world charity operated by the Catholic Church – have been vaccinated, among others. Local observers worry that the consequences of the mass migration of mostly Muslim migrants from Africa and the Middle East into Italy will have consequences far beyond the financial burden on local resources.
Enrico Ioculano, the mayor of the town of 55,000 people in Liguria, says he is facing “an untenable situation,” given that more than 50 migrants from Africa and elsewhere are coming into the town. He said that Ventimiglia struggles to meet the demands placed on its resources. He recently discovered that Italy’s national government will cover only about half of the $300,000 spent on unaccompanied migrants alone that have been expended so far this year. Local authorities are calling on the national government to provide aid professionals, rather than relying on charitable volunteers.
Local Catholics have been shocked by Caritas workers at their parish. Caritas workers recently demanded that Catholic pray in silence in their own church, rather than reciting their prayers out loud as is customary, so as not to disturb the Muslims being housed there. Their parish priest, Don Rito,accompanied at least two of his parishioners to another church to pray. Currently, the St. Anthony parish church is housing approximately 400 migrants.
Last year, Pope Francis called on each Catholic parish in Europe to take in at least a half dozen migrants.
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