News / Europe

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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid