The voice of Veneto on the immigration emergency – a solution proposed by the Governor

The massive immigration issue is still well settled in the Mediterranean. The Media keeps speaking about the immigration emergency in Italy, the EU does not act on these matters while it keeps the “big ones” of the Union well far from the problem and regions of Italy are the only ones who have to deal with the non-stopping flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean every week from Northern African coasts. 

The President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, maintains her policy of “hosting any refugee coming to Italy, who escapes from hunger, war and poverty”, while Italians strive to survive with the new recession that has been announced by the ECB in the previous days of this not-so-hot August. Human trafficking has not been neutralized yet and most of the boats that try to cross all the way up to Sicily are the work of criminal organizations settled in Northern Africa, especially in Libya, where most of these refugees get their “ferry of fortune” to Europe.

What the government in Rome does not take into account is the risk that the populations of each region designated to host those human beings are taking. Veneto will be taken as an example on this article, for being one of the richest regions of the country, and one of the better industrialized and developed, together with Lombardy and a couple other regions located in the Northern part of Italy.

Veneto is a region located in the North-Eastern part of Italy, and has roughly 5 million inhabitants, making it one of the most populous regions of the country. The industrialization of the territory and the development of the various economic sectors make Veneto one of the richest regions too, and Rome takes this as the excuse to send hundreds of refugees, most of these being children or women who cannot work, to this area for their operation called “Mare Nostrum”.
But what is “Mare Nostrum”?
Let’s go back of some months: in October 2013, after the catastrophic event happened in Lampedusa, when many immigrants died during their travel across the Mediterranean, the government decided to start this policy called “Mare Nostrum” to prevent such events and control the flow of immigrants in the Mediterranean, as well as contrasting the episodes of human trafficking which are always more frequent in this route.
What the media does not tell, is that most of these desperate people are coming to Italy aboard of “floating objects” run by serial unscrupulous human traffickers who have no other worry but taking an amount of money, worth probably these people’s whole life, out of who is escaping from war, hunger and prosecution.
What refugees do not know, is the current situation here in Italy. The recession has not yet finished, instead, the ECB declares it started again. There are no jobs and no opportunities for local citizens, let alone for these poor people full of hope to find a better life in Europe, uh, well, Italy.
Yes, because Europe keeps rejecting ANY attempt by these people to reach their borders. And that is another thing the media does not like to share. Many people have been rejected at the borders of other European countries, especially France and Germany.

How are these people treated in Italy? Where do they end up after they reached the southern border of the E.U.? Most of them are cornered in prison-like institutes where they cannot escape, not even if they decide to willingly leave the country. Yes, because many then realize that Italy is not the “El Dorado” they dreamed about, and decide to leave the country for a better place. Then there are the local “hospitality shelters”, made out of old abandoned barracks, schools and other buildings, unsuitable for hospitality, because they are not hygienically and structurally safe. And this is one of the reasons the Governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, points out when it comes to host refugees in Veneto.
Five locations have been chosen in the region, among old disused buildings, but none of them would be suitable to host people who need a bed, a place where to wash themselves, a kitchen where they can cook their food. All this has a cost, and the Governor Zaia suggests an alternative to this costly solution. “Why don’t we start helping them in their own country, instead of spending three times the same money by building hospitality shelters here and give them food and the necessary in a country like Italy, where Italians keep losing jobs and live in poverty? Refugees from Africa will find another Africa here. With the money the government gives them every day, 35 €, an African person can live for 1 year in their country. Life is way cheaper there. The only thing we must do is to help them learn how to survive, learn how to cultivate crops and raise and breed animals.” He added: “A friend of mine, who is a missionary in Africa, told me that when they find a sheep, they just eat it. They should learn how to make milk and cheese out of them, instead of just eat their flesh.” 

The tent camps near the barracks are not the best solution, in fact since many of those buildings designated for accommodating these people are unsafe, they would have to make tent cities in the near parking lots and that will not be a good solution, especially with the coming winter. In addition to this, the local population must be heard as well, especially because many locals are collecting signatures against this hospitality. Many are afraid of a rise of the crime rate in the area, because these people will have to find a way to earn money, and with no jobs (more than 35.000 people lost their job in Veneto), criminality is the second option. Others are afraid of the diseases that might reach the area, especially after the local cases of leprosy and scabies found in the local hospitals in the last months. The Ebola virus has also aroused many protests, but many doctors assure that it is quite difficult that an infected person could reach Italy and infect other people. But in any case, the Governor suggests to do a general screening to any person coming to Veneto, to avoid the rising of other epidemics.

However, Veneto seems to refuse any invite from the central government in Rome to receive hundreds of refugees and host them for an undetermined period of time. The regional government prefers to invest the money designated for the emergency to build a more solid network with local institutions and help people from their own countries, instead of hosting them in a place that has nothing to offer, especially with this never-ending recession affecting the whole country, and, moreover the local medium and working class of the country and the region of Veneto itself.

Source: August 9th, 2014 interview with Veneto’s Governor Luca Zaia, transmitted on Rete Veneta’s program “Focus”. 

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