'Farmworkers in Gioia Tauro in critical conditions', NGO says

30 December, 09:00

    (ANSAmed) - ROMA, 30 DIC - The Italian organization Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) has denounced that living conditions of migrant farm workers in the plane of Gioia Tauro, in the southern region of Calabria, remain critical.

    For yet another year, the living and working conditions of farm workers in the plane of Gioia Tauro, in Calabria, "have appeared desolating" with "access to fundamental rights a useless dream" while institutional actions have been "belated and short-sighted", the organization Doctors for Human Rights said in a statement released on December 28. "In order to avoid yet another season of exploitation and denied rights, with a heavy impact also on the territory, MEDU is asking for the immediate adoption of measures", including "the planning and implementation of systematic activities to raise awareness and screen for Covid-19 in settlements"; "immediate interventions to restore essential services at the tent camp of San Ferdinando and maintenance at the container camp of Rosarno"; the implementation of a protocol "to promote housing solutions across the municipalities of the plane" of Gioia Tauro "to help the social inclusion of migrants and end their precarious conditions".

    The situation of settlements During the month of December, the mobile clinic of Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) once again provided health assistance and social and legal orientation to farm workers in the plane of Gioia Tauro. As of today, the number of migrants who have reached the Plane - mostly young men coming from western Africa - has sensibly decreased compared to the past few years. Some 600 people are living in several makeshift settlements in the area, in particular the tent camp in San Ferdinando, the container camp of Rosarno and abandoned homes in the municipality of Taurianova. MEDU has denounced how, in the area of the plane, the procedure to release and renew stay permits is too lengthy. The hopes of undocumented farm hands to obtain a regularization were dashed in 2020. Out of the 1,550 applications presented in Calabria by workers - including only just 200 who were from the province of Reggio Calabria - only 15% were fully processed one year later and less than 5% of requests were accepted, MEDU said.

    Speaking about makeshift settlements, MEDU noted how the tent camp of San Ferdinando hosts approximately 300 people, in condition of total abandonment, in the absence of essential services like electricity, warm water, a system to process waste and maintain bathrooms. Many people sleep together in tents and light fires or use heaters with small generators that are a fire hazard and pose great risks to health. "This camp is meant to be a place for us workers, dedicated to us in order to support us during our months of work. Is this the treatment we deserve? Hot water doesn't exist, there are only two working bathrooms for 300 people and we have not had electricity in any area of the tent camp for a long time", an imam who has lived in the tent camp since its creation told MEDU. "Without lighting we are also exposed to all types of danger. The situation has never been this difficult".

    The container camp of Rosarno hosts about 200 people in less precarious conditions, since some essential services are guaranteed at the moment. However, the camp is extremely isolated and doesn't have any type of support by institutions.

    Some 70 farm workers, finally, find shelter in abandoned farms in the area Contrada Russo, in the municipality of Taurianova, in inhumane conditions, in the absence of any basic service, the NGO said. The only place where water is available is located some 500 meters from houses, at the start of a dirt road which becomes inaccessible in case of rain due to mud and puddles.

    Concern over 'social village' in Taurianova The inauguration of a "social village" in Taurianova has been planned later next year. The project includes 25 housing units, a soccer field and "green" services like solar panels and electrical bikes to host about 120 migrants residing in the municipality, in particular those who are currently in the district of Contrada Russo. Although the initiative is aimed at improving the living conditions of farm hands, concern has been expressed in terms of its implementation - at the end of the citrus harvesting season - and over its limited space compared to the number of migrant farm hands living in the area. The position and criteria to access the "social village" have also raised concern because they exclude most of the farm hands working in the Plane, MEDU said.

    (Archive: migrant farmworkers in a vineyard. Photo: ANSA).


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