- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

MILAN (AP) - Residents in a town on Italy’s Adriatic coast are blockading a hostel to prevent the arrival of 12 female migrants, one of them pregnant, who were to be housed there, in a sign of growing tension amid persistent migrant arrivals.

The impasse in the town of Goro came after new government figures showed migrant arrivals have surpassed the same period last year, with 153,632 so far. That compares with 153,846 for all of last year.

And while the pace is shy of the 2014 record of 170,000 migrants, Italy has tightened its borders under pressure from its European partners, meaning greater numbers are remaining in Italy than in the past.

The prefect of Ferrara province, Michele Tortora, on Tuesday called the blockade “disconcerting.” He said that the women have been placed in nearby towns and that he will meet later with the mayor of Goro - one of a handful of towns in the province of Ferrara that currently are housing no migrants.

Unidentified residents told Sky TG24 that they would maintain their blockade as long as it takes. They said they needed the hostel for tourism and that they were concerned about public safety.

Tortora said officials had canvassed the province looking for hotels and other buildings in which to place migrants, and had requisitioned the hostel after being repeatedly told that all buildings were fully booked. “All this touristic turnover at the end of October and November seems improbable to me,” he said.

The head of an organization helping to coordinate migrant placements, the Rev. Armando Zappolini, said the barricade in Goro “confirmed a fact that is increasingly evident: the normality of xenophobia in our country.”

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