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  • Clothes hanging at an immigration center in Mineo, on the Italian island of Sicily, April 21, 2015.

    Clothes hanging at an immigration center in Mineo, on the Italian island of Sicily, April 21, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 July 2019

The final inhabitants were removed last week to be sent to another centre in Calabria.

What was once Europe's biggest migrant reception center, located in Mineo, Sicily, was officially closed Tuesday with its biggest critic, far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, on hand.

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About 50 former workers at the center and unionists protested ahead of the minister's arrival, holding a protest banner reading: "today we celebrate the funeral of Mineo."

The reception center, a former housing complex for United State military members, is now guarded by Italian troops.

At its peak in 2014, Mineo housed more than 4,100 migrants and refugee-seekers. As a result of Salvini's decision, 400 people will lose their jobs, and the town's mayor threatened to resign if they were not reassigned to some other employement.

According to the AFP, the migrants and asylum seekers housed at Mineo were sometimes exploited to pick fruit during harvest seasons for about US$11-22 per day. 

Its population declined and when anti-immigrant Salvini and the nationalist Five Star Movement came to power in June of last year, it housed 2,500.

As the number housed at the center dropped to 152 by last month, Salvini officially announced its closing.

Since January, some 3,126 migrants have reached Italy, most of whom came from Tunisia, Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Iraq and Bangladesh.

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