Photographs and text by Marco Sacco
The migration flows, intensified especially in recent years, are the most obvious symptom of political instability in many countries bordering the Mare Nostrum and sub-Saharan Africa.
The strategic position of Italy in the Mediterranean basin favors the arrive of many migrants who choose the ways of the sea to reach the Beautiful Country (a.k.a. Italy “Bel Paese”), but it almost never is their ultimate goal, but simply wants to be a corridor to other countries European Union, in the hope of a better life.
But what are the steps that follow the exodus from their country? After arrival in real “human harbours,” such as those of Lampedusa and Marsala, the Italian reception system is divided into two phases: the first takes place in the reception centers of government, the second, continues inside SPRAR (Sistema di Protezione per Richiedenti Asilo e Rifugiati – Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) or, as often happens, which leads to solutions of ambiguous legality and of dubious assurance of a lifetime dignified.
In Bari, the former grammar school Socrate, the former industrial site S.E.T. and the Ferrhotel, a former hotel owned by Trenitalia, that in the last years are a second reception centers for migrants from all over Africa, are the prime example of how this system is ruinous. Inhabited since 2009 (Ferrhotel and Socrate) or 2014 (S.E.T.), and despite the approval by the local authority, where the same are then not committed to the implementation of projects that can provide integrated reception, a refugee right.
Then, aided by a committee of support that allowed the transition from sleeping on the street to having a roof over your head, the occupants of the centers have undertaken self-organized activities that have temporarily remedied the government organism. But, in spite of the help of volunteers, the situation is precipitated in the years. Whit the passage of the time, in fact, self-management initiatives have had less and less effective in the social unrest that plagues the occupants, both for the total indifference to their problems by the control bodies. The laudable efforts of voluntary social can not substitute for the obligations of the Authority, and the lack of the latter led to a deep distrust of institutions by immigrants. Distrust reflected in the projection of a future without any security of a decent living.
The Authority should support Third Sector Organisations, protagonists in the implementation of integration initiatives that target not only the implementation of basic measures, such as food and lodging, but also the provision of services to facilitate the acquisition of tools for the autonomy of the beneficiaries. None of this, however, was granted to immigrants, fitted with a valid residence permit and having the right to political asylum.
Currently the occupants would need health care and social support, multicultural activities, an appropriate school for the children, of linguistic and cultural mediation, learning the language and sometimes even literacy, guidance and legal information, housing accommodation, of work placement, training services and much more.
In fact, many non-EU have not integrated neither culturally nor linguistically, and it is synonymous with the fact that since they lives here – some even up five years ago – have never worked but have spent whole days in structure, camping out and bored.
The sanitary conditions are then manifestly deficient: unhealthy smells, dirt, proliferation of insects infest the environments in which they lived.
The pictures, in support of the complaint to the state in which experience immigrants and structures, are part of a project in a growth phase that has as its ultimate goal the documentation of the condition and the drama of these individuals, political parties from the South with the hope of a better life to the more prosperous North, are instead stuck in a country that is unlikely to give them a better alternative.
The lack of employment, and thus the absence of income, are blocking these immigrants in a limbo Italian and European laws that sometimes foolish and often poorly enforced, into a labyrinthine of bureaucracy, without even a chance to make return home or reach their loved ones in other countries of Europe (ref. Agreement Shenghen, the Dublin II Regulation). The report then chases the hope that, once published, these photos can awaken public opinion on this current and relevant theme, and that can especially deal a series of concrete actions to their aid.
I tried to show in the most neutral and clear their condition. I did not know any of them and when I walked in the school and I shared my time between them, respecting their homes (former classrooms, tents or hotel rooms) and respecting their desire to be photographed or not.