PIANA DI GIOIA TAURO: TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE IN SHACKS OF SAN FERDINANDO. RETURNING BACK TEN YEARS.

Categories: Press release

In the industrial area of ​​San Ferdinando there are more than 2 thousand migrants encamped in tents, shacks and abandoned buildings who are living and working in disastrous conditions. The Operational Protocol in terms of reception and integration signed almost a year ago at the Prefecture with the Region and municipalities has remained a dead letter. A desperate picture seven years after the so-called “revolt of Rosarno”. MEDU (Physicians for Human Rights) calls for immediate action and long term implementations to ensure decent conditions for workers who arrive every year in the Plain of Gioia Tauro for the citrus season.



Piana di Gioia Tauro

San Ferdinando (RC), 27 December 2016 – The situation in the industrial area of ​​San Ferdinando is dramatic. Today, there are about 2 thousand workers encamped in terrible conditions in the camps and in the occupied factory. We returned back ten years. This is the situation outlined by MEDU (Physicians for Human Rights) that for the fourth consecutive year, as part of the project Terragiusta, operates a mobile clinic in the Plain of Gioia Tauro providing medical care and social and health guidance to foreign workers who are there for the citrus season.
Most of the 149 examined patients are coming mainly from Senegal (25%), Mali (18%), Ghana (13%), Burkina Faso (9%) and 75% have a regular residence permit (29 % are asylum seekers in appeal
process against the denial of the Territorial Commission, 16% are holder of a residence permit for humanitarian reasons, 10% for working purposes). Most of them are workers who arrived in Italy less than 3 years ago. They are living and working in extremely precarious conditions: half of the labourers are sleeping on a mattress on the ground or directly on the floor; the toilets are latrines dug in the ground; they are cooking on improvised fires or gas stoves in tents and shacks; they wash themselves with water heated in sheet steel bins; no garbage collection service is organized. Therefore, there are significant risks for health and for the individual and collective security of those living in such conditions. The picture is even more dramatic with an exponential increase, inside the settlement, of the female population: about sixty women, many of whom probably victims of phenomena of trafficking for prostitution.
They are also precarious working conditions. Given the intensification of Police controls, there was an increase in employment contracts. 32% of patients employed in the harvest reported to possess one (+20% compared to last year). However, this is still “grey labour”: they harvest mandarins and oranges per piecework and day for 25-30 euro a day, often without receiving a paycheck nor the due recognized contributions. On 19 February 2016, the ‘operational protocol for the reception and integration of immigrants in the Plain of Gioia Tauro’ was signed at the Prefecture of Reggio Calabria. The Protocol – given the “poor conditions even at health and hygiene levels” – call for an “action without delay to ensure the use of basic services and promote full integration.” In particular, the region of Calabria, in synergy with the prefecture and municipalities and following the allocation of 300 thousand euro, would have to restore minimum living conditions by purchasing new tents and proceed “gradually and promptly” with the implementation of policies promoting and supporting social housing. Almost a year after it was signed, none of the forecasted has been realized.
At the new tent city there is only gravel on the ground while there are dozens of empty and unused buildings in the industrial area. Given the lack of implementation of the Protocol, MEDU calls for:

  • Adoption of immediate measures aimed at ensuring decent conditions for workers who find themselves living in these conditions;
  • Following a monitoring of vacant houses, the implementation – as it is already happening for years in the neighbouring municipality of Drosi – a housing intermediation service;
  • The implementation of a public transport service to be used by all the inhabitants of the Plain.

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Physicians for Human Rights (MEDU) initiated in 2014 the project “Terragiusta. Campaign against the exploitation of migrant workers in agriculture.” The project is implemented with the support of Foundation with the South (Fondazione con il Sud), Open Society Foundations and the Charlemagne Foundation. The 2016-18 biennium partners are Flai-Cgil of Gioia Tauro, City of Rosarno, Arci Iqbal Masih of Venosa, Terra! Onlus, Zalab, Amisnet.