News / Europe

‘Arab Spring’ Migrants Trapped by Italy’s Economic Crisis

Henry Ridgwell

The flow of migrants from Libya to Europe has resumed following the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in October. Since the uprisings in Libya and Tunisia earlier this year, tens of thousands of migrants have departed across the Mediterranean for a new life. The reality of trying to build a new life in Europe is often a long way from the hopes and dreams of the migrants. And, Italy's economic crisis is also hitting the newcomers hard.

From afar, the ramshackle huts crammed on the edge of the vast green fields resemble a refugee camp. The residents call it ‘the Ghetto,’ a squalid shanty town on the outskirts of Foggia in southern Italy which is home to over 600 immigrants.

The region is known as the ‘Red Gold Triangle,’ producing 35 percent of Italy’s tomatoes, most picked and processed by armies of migrant workers every fall.

"They sleep on the ground on mattresses they have picked up on the streets, most of them are rotten and infested with insects," said Dr. Alvise Benelli of Doctors Without Borders, who helps care for the workers.

This year, due to Italy’s economic crisis, factories in Italy’s rich north laid off employees - forcing an extra 2,000 migrants to head south looking for work.

A clampdown on illegal migrants means fewer farmers are willing to hire them.

The few jobs available pay around $45 for toiling in the fields, dawn till dusk.

"We just didn't know Italy was like this, we always thought it was a country where we would find jobs and do everything like eating and a lot of nice things,” said Andrea, who came to Italy several years ago from Burkina Faso. “Now we have seen it is not like that. But I can't go back."

As the uprisings in Tunisia and Libya ignited earlier this year, tens of thousands of migrants from across Africa and the Middle East began to leave the northern shores headed for Europe.

Hundreds have drowned on the journey.

Most who survive arrive on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa before being taken to the Italian mainland. A few legitimately claim asylum. Most stay illegally.

A group of 400 migrants trying to leave Tripoli last week were stopped by Libyan patrol boats.

“It appears that now after the end of the Libya fighting and crisis, the migration has resumed across the Mediterranean," said Mans Nyberg, spokesman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. "So again we see small rickety boats approaching Italy, approaching Malta from Libya. This is happening during the months of winter which of course are very dangerous in the Mediterranean with storms.”

Italy has launched an amnesty for some immigrants employed as cleaners or carers for the elderly. But not for illegal immigrants like the residents of the ‘Ghetto’.

With no official papers and barely any income, they are trapped - far from home and a long way from the hopes and dreams that set them on their way to Europe.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs