Domitilla De Luca Bossa
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- العمر 18
Hello! This is my first post for the VOY Blogging Internship. I will write on the issue of migration, connected to UNICEF’s "Children Uprooted" campaign. I hope you will enjoy reading!
A burning sun is shining on the desert city. The usual hustle is silent and the only noise you hear is that of the air conditioning systems of the few cars approaching the centre of Naples.
As your car reaches the train station, you start hearing something different. It's muffled and tired voices coming from the nearby street, where around sixty men and women of colour are trying to sell bags and clothes. Some are riding on old Vespas and waiting at traffic lights for cars to stop so they could wash their windows in change of a few coins. They are migrants and you've seen them many times in Naples before, but this is the first time when they seem at ease, free to move in a city emptied by the hotness of August.
The arrival of migrants and refugees to Italy is a constant topic on Italian news. The precise number of migrants to Italy is difficult to state, especially as many of them are on the territory illegally. Nevertheless, at the end of 2016, according to the BBC, Italy reported that 171,000 people “crossed the Mediterranean” . 1 The number of refugees, differently, is tracked by UNHCR. Latest data show that there were 147,370 refugees and 99,921 asylum seekers in Italy, for a total of 247,291 people. 2
Italian people have various feelings on the issue of migration and this new migration wave. Sadly, many see it negatively and you often hear people saying things like "The State gives money to migrants instead of helping Italian people " or "Migrants steal jobs from Italian people". While these expressions arise from the frustration of a country that was severely hit by the 2008 economic crisis and is still facing its consequences, they are unacceptable simply because they are not true.
Firstly, the State does not hand money to migrants. Instead, it gives funds to the associations that help people who arrive to Italy so that they can provide them with food, shelter and clothing. According to the Italian newspaper "Internazionale" this is an amount of 35 to 40 € per migrant, and only 2,5 € a day is given as pocket money to the migrants themselves. 3
Secondly, migrants do not steal jobs from Italian people. In fact, they usually do what many Italian people would not really do as their first choice. They pick fruits and vegetables in the countryside, being paid only a few euros per day. 4 They work in factories in the cities, oftentimes in terrible conditions of exploitation. They usually don't have regular contracts, leave days for sickness or any other kind of insurance.
From an economic point of view, when they do have a regular job, migrants pay taxes to the State. According to the Italian newspaper "Repubblica", their taxes allow the state to pay 620,000 pensions to Italian people. 5 This shows that they actually help Italy, a country that sees its young people leaving to study and work abroad and which has a higher percentage of elderly compared to youth.
Nevertheless, we should not reduce this to a matter of economics. It is firstly a matter of compassion. In fact, when I hear people saying, "I don't understand them, why are they coming here?" I would tell them to ask the same question to their fathers and uncles, who migrated to the Americas 150 years ago. They were migrants who tried to find a better place for their children, a job that could give them the possibility to live in dignity and the chance to be happy.
This is what people look for when making their way through the Mediterranean reaching Italy, Spain or Greece. Whether they are refugees trying to save their lives or economic migrants looking for brighter days, there is a simple reason for them to be welcomed: they are all human beings who are often born in difficult situations.