Migrants in front of the Felandina sheds in Metaponto di Bernalda | Photo: ANSA/FRANCESCO LOSCALZO
Migrants in front of the Felandina sheds in Metaponto di Bernalda | Photo: ANSA/FRANCESCO LOSCALZO

Sheds occupied by 130 migrants working as day laborers on farms in Metaponto di Bernalda, in the Basilicata province in southern Italy, were cleared by security forces on Wednesday morning. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has expressed concern over what will happen to the migrants now.

About 130 migrants were evicted Wednesday morning from sheds at the former Felandina industrial complex in the small community of Metaponto di Bernalda in southern Italy.

The migrants work as day laborers in fields in the area and have been moved in small groups to other facilities in the area. 

Eviction after August 7 fire killed one 

The eviction was ordered after a 28-year-old Nigerian woman died in a fire at Felandina on August 7. The deceased, Eris Petty Stone, had slept in one of the sheds when the fire broke out.

The sheds had been occupied since June 2018 and had hosted - in unhygienic and unsafe conditions - up to about 600 people. 

Reports on Thursday morning stated that there were between 400 and 500 people living in them. 

The humanitarian organization Forum delle Terre di Dignità, which has called the Felandina site a 'ghetto', criticized the lack of an ''effective and fair evacuation plan'' for the migrants. 

MSF concerned over lack of housing options 

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has expressed concern over what will now happen to the hundreds of people evicted. The medical coordinator of MSF projects in Italy, Francesco Di Donna, said that ''it is necessary now more than ever that, at the national and local level, solid policies be adopted to manage a phenomenon that has been ongoing for decades and has become structural." 

Evictions without alternative housing solutions "cannot be considered sustainable measures since they aggravate the vulnerability of these people and the risks to their health," Di Donna said, stressing that the residents had already been living in serious conditions. 

In collaboration with the Matera healthcare authority, MSF began to work at the former Felandina industrial compound on July 4 to meet the basic needs of those living in the settlement and of those who work as seasonal farmhands in the fields of southern Italy. 

Over the two months of activities, MSF provided over 400 medical examinations and found that over a fourth of the patients experience muscular-skeletal pain or inflammation connected with the type of work they are doing. 

In 55 of the cases, skin pathologies were found attributable to the lack of hygienic conditions in the settlement or possible contact with harmful chemical substances. In addition, about 60 patients were diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems due in part to the lack of access to drinking water and precarious hygiene conditions, MSF noted. 
 

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