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Thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators rally in Italy

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in the northern Italian city of Como, denouncing anti-refugee activities by the far-right groups in the country.

More than 10,000 anti-fascist demonstrators, including leaders from the governing center-left Democratic Party (PD), took part in the protest rally on Saturday.

Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and ex-spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Laura Boldrini, were also among the protesters.

“Today in Como is an important day. There are more than 10,000 of us taking part in this demonstration against all forms of fascism and intolerance,” said Maurizo Martina, the deputy secretary of Italy’s center-left PD.

An image grab from a video released by Ruptly shows anti-fascist demonstrators in the northern Italian city of Como on December 9, 2017.

The rally was organized after two separate attacks recently took place in the European country — one on an aid charity meeting in support of refugees in Como and the other on the office of a newspaper that supported immigration in the Italian capital, Rome.

Northern Italy has experienced a rise in anti-immigrant sentiments in recent years with the inflow of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East.

The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) says more than 130,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Europe by sea since the start of 2017.

Three-quarters of the new arrivals in 2017 landed in Italy. The rest of the asylum seekers set foot in Greece, Cyprus, and Spain.

The surge in the refugee inflow into Italy came after the European Union reached a deal with Turkey in March last year to curb the arrivals in Greece from the east.

A rescue ship with refugees from Central Africa and Syria on board arrives in the harbor of Vibo Valentia, in southern Italy, November 7, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Asylum seekers, displaced by by war, famine, poverty, and persecution, are usually packed into flimsy rubber boats with barely enough fuel to get them to their destination.

Some 2,500 asylum seekers lost their lives attempting to make the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea this year. During the same period in 2016, 3,200 asylum seekers had lost their lives, according to the IOM.

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