From file: Farmworkers in Calabria, Italy | Photo: Quotidiano Del Sud/Ansa
From file: Farmworkers in Calabria, Italy | Photo: Quotidiano Del Sud/Ansa

The Italian organization Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) has denounced that living conditions of migrant farm workers in Gioia Tauro, located in the southern region of Calabria, remain critically precarious.

For yet another year, the living and working conditions of migrant farm workers in Gioia Tauro in Calabria continue to be inhumane.

Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) said in a statement released on December 28 that for migrants there, having "access to fundamental rights (is) a useless dream," highlighting that any government intervention to improve living conditions had been "belated and short-sighted."

On December 20, MEDU called for "urgent interventions to protect migrant workers employed in the harvest of oranges and clementines" on Twitter.

Concretely, to "avoid yet another season of exploitation and denied rights," the organization asked for the "immediate adoption of measures" that include the "planning and implementation of systematic activities to raise awareness as well as screening protocols for COVID-19 in settlements."

The organization also demanded "immediate intervention to restore essential services at the tent camp of San Ferdinando and maintenance at the container camp of Rosarno" as well as the implementation of a protocol "to promote housing solutions across the municipalities" in the vicinity of Gioia Tauro.

Living in desolation

Some 600 people live in several makeshift settlements in the area, in particular at the aforementioned tent camp in San Ferdinando and the container camp of Rosarno as well as in abandoned homes in the municipality of Taurianova. Most of them are young men coming from western Africa.

The tent camp of San Ferdinando alone hosts approximately 300 people, who according to MEDU live in a condition of "total abandonment" without any access to essential services like electricity, hot water and sanitation.

While the number of migrants in the region has decreased compared to the past few years, the situation remains fluid, with the summer months attracting more migrants typically, with many working as undocumented farmhands.

New 'migrant village' to offer respite - but only to few

There might be some respite at the end of next year, when a new migrant facility is slated to open. The so-called "social village" will include 25 housing units, solar panels and the use of electric bikes, designed to host about 120 migrants residing in the municipality.

However, widespread concern has been expressed about the time frame of the project, as housing solutions are needed much sooner. The fact that there will be limited space to host only a total of 120 migrants has also attracted criticism.

Only migrants with valid permits to remain in the area will be accepted to live in the village, which automatically excludes the vast majority of the seasonal farmhands, as application procedures for these permits take incredibly long, MEDU highlighted:

Out of the 1,550 applications lodged only 15% were fully processed within one year, while less than 5% of the requests were accepted, according to MEDU.

 

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