Migrants protest conditions at asylum centers in Italy

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Italian police early Tuesday quelled a protest by occupants of a migrant center near Venice that left fearful workers at the center barricaded inside offices.

Carabinieri paramilitary police in Chioggia, about 70 kilometers east of the Cona migrant center, said the protest ended peacefully after a few hours.

Some migrants told Italian television they were protesting the alleged delay in medical assistance Monday for an ill 25-year-old woman from Ivory Coast. She died shortly after an ambulance arrived.

The Italian news agency ANSA quoted Venice Prosecutor Lucia D’Alessandro as saying an autopsy indicated a pulmonary blood clot caused the woman’s death.

Italian state radio said 25 frightened workers locked themselves inside offices when the migrants allegedly set fires outside the center. No one was reported injured, and the protest ended after police intervened.

The migrant center in a former military barracks houses more than 1,000 asylum seekers, many of them Africans who arrived in Italy after paying migrant smugglers for perilous journeys from Libya on unseaworthy, overcrowded fishing boats or dinghies.

Il Sole-24 Ore radio said that before the unrest, the center’s management was being investigated for allegations of fraud and maltreatment.

Cona, a town of some 3,000 residents, is one of many Italian locations hosting migrants while asylum requests are processed. Some 180,000 migrants were rescued at sea and brought ashore to Italy in 2016, and many towns have complained they cannot handle more placements.

Later on Tuesday, a group of asylum seekers in Verona, also in northeast Italy, overturned trash bins and briefly blocked traffic to protest the poor conditions at the center where they are being housed.

Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi called the protest unacceptable and urged national authorities to exclude the protest’s organizers from protection programs.