Migrant conditions in Italy’s Gioia Tauro plain worsening

The living conditions for migrants in the Gioia Tauro plain in southern Italy have worsened, according to Italian charity Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU).

In a report titled ‘Unjust Land: Fifth Report on the Living and Working Conditions of Migrant Farm Workers in the Gioia Tauro Plain’, the report revealed that around 2,000 young migrants from the African continent are exploited on agricultural farms.

“On the backs of these men, a large part of the agricultural sector of the Piana di Gioia Tauro actually stands: yet the way in which they are treated is incompatible with those principles of civilization that a country that respects the fundamental rights of the person should always and in any case guarantee,” MEDU had said earlier in March.

Each year, thousands of migrants from countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal arrive in this part of Italy. The recent report said “exploitation, abandonment, degradation and desperation” are the “most distinctive aspects of life in one of the largest ghettoes in Europe.” Workers suffer from exploitation, extremely precarious hygienic and sanitary conditions, degraded living conditions, widespread illegality, and obstacles in access to services and medical care.

Among the 438 patients that MEDU treated in the most recent harvest season, 90 per cent work illegally, and two-thirds receive an average wage of just EUR 25 a day. Only half of those interviewed had worked in the last three months, and of those only less than a third had a work contract. 

Most of the diseases diagnosed are linked to poor housing and sanitary conditions. Up to 40 labourers live in cramped and unsafe rooms, in abandoned farmhouses in the countryside.

“In just over a year, in a sort of slow massacre, four people have burned to death in tragic and avoidable fires in makeshift shacks or ministry-provided tents,” the charity said.

The authorities have in the past demolished camps where agricultural workers lived in inhuman conditions. “The most recent evacuation, which took place on March 6 without sufficient planning and without a credible alternative plan, concluded with the umpteenth transfer of a few hundred people to a tent camp. The others left on their own in the preceding days,” the report said.

TMP – 10/06/2019

Photo credit: MEDU

Photo caption: The San Ferdinando camp in the Calabria region of southern Italy where thousands of farm labourers live.