A recent report states that there are at least 10,000 migrant farmworkers living in makeshift settlements in Italy, considered places of exploitation in which they are deprived of their basic rights.
There are at least 10,000 migrant farmworkers living in makeshift settlements in Italy, deprived of their basic rights and lacking services that could facilitate their integration, according to a new report published on Tuesday, July 19, by the Italian Labor Ministry and the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI).
The report, entitled "Housing Conditions of Migrants Working in the Food and Agriculture Sector", was published as part of a 2020-2022 three-year plan against labor exploitation in agriculture.
The migrants who live there have no other option other than to remain in "ghettos" and spend their days doing poorly paid work in highly precarious conditions. Most are in the southern part of the country, many live in shacks created out of tin sheets; however, these migrant "ghettoes" can be found across the entire country.
These people "live in makeshift settlements in Italy that are considered places of exploitation and in which they are deprived of their basic rights. In many cases, they have been living there for several years without access to basic services or ones for integration," the report stated.
Activist and trade unionist Aboubakar Soumahoro commented on the report by saying: "our rights are rotting in the fields and throughout the food and agriculture sector."
38 municipalities report 150 settlements
The study enabled the Italian labor ministry to select local administrations to which €200 million from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan will be allocated in a bid to improve the situation.
Some 38 municipalities, the report said, have reported the presence of 150 makeshift or unauthorized settlements that include cottages and buildings that have been occupied illegally as well as shantytowns, tents, and shacks.
Some of these settlements have only a few people in them, while other more well-known ones include thousands.
Some areas of southern Italy are at the top of the rankings for the 11 regions affected, but these "ghettos" are present across the entire country.
The report stated that though these settlements are mostly stable, they lack basic services and the living conditions inside are extremely poor. In fewer than 30% of the cases is public transportation near the settlements and this fact has been found to be especially significant in terms of the resulting risk of labor exploitation and inadequate transportation.
Soumahoro urges greater 'visibility' for exploited migrants
"This report is not simply the mapping of how migrants live and work in camps," Labor Minister Andrea Orlando and ANCI chief Antonio Decaro wrote in the preface to the report. It also, they said, shows "in a broader manner the way in which we acknowledge and deny dignity to those lives and that work."
"For far too long we have carried the burden of places that reject our founding principles and the respect due to every human being. We cannot and do not want to carry that burden any longer," they added.
"We will restore the real meaning of the words 'home' and 'work'." Soumahoro said, "the census of settlements for day laborers is certainly a good thing, even though it is very difficult to do a census of people who are invisible and do not exist in the eyes of the state. To conduct a census of 'invisibles,' it is first necessary to give them visibility, otherwise there is the risk of stating approximate numbers that are far from reality."
Soumahoro went on to say that, "the term 'migrant day laborer', used several times in the report by the ministry, is misleading since it tends to strip the day laborers of the serious condition of being workers (which they share with Italian day laborers) and relegate them to a sphere that concerns only migration."