Italy calls up troops for urban crackdown on migrants

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The Independent Online

Nine hundred soldiers are to be deployed in Rome with the job of making the Italian capital a cleaner, quieter and more decorous place, under a law and order package approved by parliament which targets the country's illegal immigrants.

The idea of ordering the army into Italian cities was contained in a bill on security that passed its final reading in the Senate yesterday. The commitment to march the troops into Rome will be signed into law tomorrow.

The campaign against Roma camps, an obsession of the Berlusconi government, will be their main priority. Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of Rome, said the number of camps would be reduced, and people moved into "solidarity villages".

This is a euphemism for new consolidated camps. Mr Alemanno, who became Mayor in April, was one of the politicians who vehemently opposed such villages when they were proposed by the centre left a year ago.

The other abuses to which soldiers will be expected to turn their attention are the selling of counterfeit merchandise, begging, especially by children, prostitution, illegal car parks, and the people who lurk at traffic lights ready to pounce on waiting cars and clean their windscreens.

The measure has been accepted by the centre-left opposition with barely a squeal of resistance. "Security" was a theme exploited with great success by the centre right during the recent election, and the opposition is loath to appear soft on the issue now.

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