Domenico Lucano

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY FRANCOISE KADRI The mayor of Riace, a village in the southern Italian region of Calabria, Domenico Lucano, awarded the "third best world's mayor", poses in his office in Riace on June 22, 2011. The village of 1800 inhabitants greeted a few years ago some 200 refugees and some 130 more will arrive in the next days with the mayor creating a special scheme for them and helping saving the village from a mass exodus. AFP PHOTO / MARIO LAPORTA (Photo credit should read MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images)Mario Laporta — AFP/Getty Images
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  • Affiliation
    Riace, Italy
  • Age

For decades emigration drained life from Riace, a village of 2,000 on the Calabrian coast. When a boatload of Kurdish refugees reached its shores in 1998, Lucano, then a schoolteacher, saw an opportunity. He offered them Riace’s abandoned apartments along with job training. Eighteen years on, Mayor Lucano is hailed for saving the town, whose population now includes migrants from 20-some nations, and rejuvenating its economy. (Riace has hosted more than 6,000 asylum seekers in all.) Though his pro-refugee stance has pitted him against the mafia and the state, Lucano’s model is being studied and adopted as Europe’s refugee crisis crests.