More than 116,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Italy since Ukraine was invaded by Russia in late February. To house them, Italian authorities have started to use properties seized from the mafia. Our correspondent in Italy, Natalia Mendoza, brings us the story.
Italy already had the second largest Ukrainian population in Europe before the war began. Now tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have arrived.
One of these is Tetiana, who fled the town of Bucha, 30 kilometres north of Kyiv, with her four children and her mother. “The fighting was intense. When the bombing started in our area, we would constantly hear missiles over our heads,” she says.
Now Tetiana and her family live in Rescaldina, north of Milan, in this flat seized from the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia.
It is one of 3,250 properties seized from organised crime groups in Lombardy, of which 662 have been made available to Ukrainian refugees so far.
The mayor of Rescaldina, Gilles Ielo, explains, “We’re waiting for the administration to give us the list of people who will be housed here. We are finishing the last touches, because this home has just been renovated."
The Italian state is currently in possession of nearly 40,000 properties that used to be in the hands of the mafia. It's a property portfolio worth more than 300 million euros, managed by a national agency administering the assets seized or confiscated from organised crime.
“We selected the homes that could be used immediately,” says Bruno Corda, the agency's director.