The First Looting Raids on Italian Supermarkets as Covid Lockdown Drives People to Desperation

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How far “behind the curve” are we from Italy again?

Police with batons and guns have moved in to protect supermarkets on the Italian island of Sicily after reports of looting by locals who could no longer afford food.

The novel coronavirus has claimed more than 10,000 lives [No it hasn’t, most died with covid of other causes] across the Mediterranean country, about a third of the world”s total, creating the worst emergency Italians have known since World War II. [No it hasn’t, the crisis was created by the over-the-top government response.]

Simultaneously, it has eroded the economy, which had been the third-largest in the European Union before the new illness reached Italian shores from China last month. A lockdown designed to curb contagion has shut almost everything across the country since March 12, depriving millions of steady incomes.

The building sense of desperation reportedly boiled over on Thursday in Sicily, long one of Italy”s least developed regions.

According to La Repubblica daily, a group of locals ran out of one of Palermo”s supermarkets without paying. “We have no money to pay, we have to eat,” someone reportedly shouted at the cashiers. In other Sicilian towns, small shops owners that are still allowed to stay open have been pressured by the locals to give them free food, Il Corriere della Sera said.

The paper wrote of a ticking “social time bomb” in the region, which is home to around five million people, and which has officially recorded 57 deaths from COVID-19. “I am afraid that concerns shared by much of the population — about health, income, the future — will turn into anger and hatred if this crisis continues,” Giuseppe Provenzano, Italy”s minister overseeing southern regions, told La Repubblica. An AFP reporter saw four armed policemen guarding one of Palermo”s supermarket entrances on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

They stood silently, hands behind their backs or tucked into the straps of their bulletproof vests, their faces partially hidden by green masks. They did not speak or interact with the shoppers, a silent presence seemingly aimed at showing a government still in control.

“People who attacked the supermarket are ignorant,” said Carmelo Badalamenti, a local who like others stuffed his red cart with groceries before everything shut down for the day Sunday.

“Plundering the supermarket will not solve anything.” In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte appears aware of the building sense of anxiety, stress and fear gripping the nation.

Making one of his increasingly regular evening television appeals to the nation Saturday evening, Conte promised to send food vouchers to those who cannot afford groceries. “We know that many suffer but the state is there,” Conte said. His government is earmarking 400 million euros ($445 million) for the emergency food relief programme.

Source: AFP

Videos have emerged of desperate people in Italy begging for help because they have run out of money and food.

Well into its third week of the coronavirus lockdown, Italy is still seeing many hundreds of people dying each day.

Progress in containing the COVID-19 spread is slow, hope and patience are fading and the economic cost is becoming ever more acute.

The strain is showing in the south of the country where one man in Apulia reportedly called police after the bank closed and they couldn’t withdraw his mother’s pension – their only income.

Footage shows him shouting at officers, telling them the family has no money, his mother begging them to go to their home so she could show them they have no food. It’s hard to watch. It’s what desperation looks like.

Another video has been shared around the country showing a father with his young daughter addressing the Italian prime minister, saying: “It’s already 15-20 days that we’ve been inside and we’re at our limit.”

He gestures to his little girl who is eating a piece of bread and says: “Like my daughter, other children in a few days won’t be able to eat this bit of bread. Rest assured, you will regret this because we’re going to have a revolution.”

Images have also emerged of police descending on supermarkets in Palermo in Sicily after reports people have started stealing to feed themselves. And groups have been set up in the last few days on social media to organise raids of supermarkets.

Sky News was sent a video message of a man in Sicily with a gun even offering to kill.

The mayor of Palermo told Sky News crime gangs are exploiting people’s hardship and inciting violence – he warns a social emergency is next.

“Discomfort and malaise are growing and we are recording worrying reports of protest and anger that is being exploited by criminals who want to destabilise the system,” said Leoluca Orlando.

“The more time passes, the more resources are exhausted. The few savings people have are running out. This tells us socio-economic issues will erupt.”

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has made €25bn available to support families and businesses affected by lockdown. Some say they’re still waiting for that help.

Others don’t qualify because their employment is not officially recorded. Italy has a big cash economy of unregistered workers – the large majority of this in the south.

The further south you go, the higher the level of deprivation and the higher the unemployment.

While the virus hasn’t reached the same crisis levels in southern Italy, hunger and hardship threaten to be even bigger problems.

Italy is ahead of other countries in this outbreak and unrest threatens to be the next chapter in this crisis.

As the country struggles to bring the virus spread under control, the government has extended lockdown from 3 April with no new deadline.

Lockdown is the only solution to save lives. [Propaganda much?]

But in southern Italy, for many, it feels like it’s threatening their very survival.

Source: Sky News

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