Friday, September 29, 2006

African immigrants cause problems in an Italian town

Christian Fraser:

The Anelli estate in Padua is a cluster of crumbling high-rise flats.

It was built in the 1980s to house the city's considerable student population.

These days it is home to several hundred African immigrants.

It has a reputation for crime, drugs and prostitution, and is a constant source of angry complaints from local Italian residents.

This summer, after riots between opposing gangs, the left-leaning mayor of Padua took a drastic decision to seal off the estate - with a metal wall.

It is 85m (290ft) long, 3m (10ft) high and it stretches along one side of the estate.

"It's not an instrument of segregation," said Mayor Flavio Zanonato.

"We just want to limit the activity of the drug pushers here. This isn't a wall in Palestine. It's just something that's harder for drug dealers to jump over."

But those who live behind the wall say they feel like they have been imprisoned.

"The people on the other side of this wall don't want to know the people in here," said Ibude Agboneta, a Nigerian immigrant.

In Italy, a barrier to crime and integration

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