Migrants hold a vigil for Mohamed Ben Ali, who died in the 'migrants ghetto' of Borgo Mezzanone, near Foggia, Italy | Photo: CESARE ABBATE/ANSA
Migrants hold a vigil for Mohamed Ben Ali, who died in the 'migrants ghetto' of Borgo Mezzanone, near Foggia, Italy | Photo: CESARE ABBATE/ANSA

The Italian union Flai-Cgil has reported that several volunteers at informal migrant settlements around Puglia "were heavily threatened" and were denied the right to help.

The Italian union Flai-Cgil has reported that several operators received threats inside a 'ghetto' for migrants who work in the fields around the Puglia city of Foggia. 

Daniele Iacovelli, the head of the Foggia chapter of the union, said on June 25 that severel volunteers ''were heavily threatened." 

''More than once we were denied the right to help'' migrants at the illegal settlement in the countryside between Rignano Garganico and San Severo, he explained. Iacovelli said ''the first threats were made a few weeks ago''.

Flai-Cgil in Foggia has denounced the exploitation by gangmasters of many farmworkers who live in the illegal settlement, which hosts some 400 people in 104 housing units. The housing units were set up by the prefecture and regional authorities last December after a fire destroyed 200 shacks. 

Access to settlement denied 

Iacovelli explained that volunteers for the NGO Intersos, including doctors, were the first to be threatened. Catholic charity Caritas ''was also targeted and migrants who studied Italian with intercultural association Baobab were threatened," he said. 

"There is a situation of tension: The last time we were even denied access (to the camp) and the police had to intervene."

"We have reported everything to the police," continued Iacovelli, who added that the threats came from a group of about 10 migrants. "We tried to talk to them to understand their motivation but we have been denied dialogue." 

Security forces as of July 7 against gangmasters 

According to the Foggia prefect, ''inter-force groups'' will take part in operations to fight the local gangmaster system starting in July. These groups include the police, the military Carabinieri police, finance police as well as officials from the labor and social security inspectorate.

Controls in particular will target local farms to fight the exploitation of farmworkers in the sector.
 

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