The Italian Almanac

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Bus Service Challenged

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR defended a bus service for immigrants set up in the southern city of Foggia that has come under fire from left-wing groups for promoting racial segregation. The bus service runs between a migrant centre, currently home to around 900 asylum seekers, and the city centre.

``If this was the only line that the asylum seekers could use and if there were a ban on migrants using other forms of public transport it would be extremely serious,`` said UNHCR regional spokeswoman Laura Boldrini. ``But as we understand it this is not the case. Transport between the centre and the city is being increased, and the need to provide transport for these people is born also from the fact that inside the centre there aren`t enough activities to occupy them`` Boldrini praised the Foggia suburb of Borgo Mezzanone, where the migrant centre is located, for welcoming children into local schools.

Centre-left opposition Democratic Party Senator Alberto Maritati nevertheless called for Interior Minister Roberto Maroni to intervene and put a stop to the bus service, describing it as a ``scandalous case of discrimination and segregation``. Maritati said the city should have increased the frequency of the usual bus service, rather than set up a new line, to deal with the large number of passengers wanting to transfer between the suburb and the city centre.

Foggia Mayor Orazio Ciliberti has explained that the closest bus stop prior to the institution of the new line four years ago was a kilometre away from the migrant centre.