If there is a day Castel Volturno will not forget about African migrants, 18th of September 2008 is that day.
Like a routine police control, some members of a local clan were dressed in police uniform and they drove to an African shop by the roadside. In a matter of seconds, they have shot dead six African migrants.
Repression on the migrants was the clear message: the highest proportion to be witnessed in Italy, where politicians are famous with their anti-immigrants policies.
For years, the African migrants in Castel Volturno were more than one thing. They were like the wild birds, surviving on the remains of a devastated town. They were the voiceless minors and the Victims of a war they didn’t know how it started.
Their silence was finally broken when six of their colleagues were murdered in cold blood. They took to the streets, measuring anger with frustration. The small town of less than 30,000 residents was turned into a chaos, smoke rising high from burning cars and garbage.
It is one year this Friday, yet the bullet holes are still fresh in front of the shop. The brutality is still like yesterday in the minds of the migrants. Their awful condition still as it was one year ago.
Thousands of them, predominately Nigerians and Ghanaians, like lost sheep looking for where to hide. The atmosphere tensed as though the real question has never been asked.
“Has the killing of six Africans really changed anything in Castel Volturno?”
“No,” said one of the Ghanaians migrants. It was midday, dozens of fellow Africans were returning on the long road of castle Volturno, like a small army. Many were looking frustrated and sad, a sign that they do not belong.
“It’s like this everyday,” he continued, “we look for work to do, but there is nothing for us here. We live in pains and like outcasts.”
In the compound next to where he was standing, several pairs of overused shoes and trousers were hung everywhere. He called it caritas. He was looking towards the storey building as if the only force that keeps his spirit and soul together is hidden there.
“There are rooms for only less than 50 people here, but we have about 200 migrants,” said one of the Sisters, called from Nigeria to assist in the hopeless situation.
Clothes were spread openly in the compound. ‘This is the position each migrant sleeps,’ I was told. No roof over their heads. The faces around were filled with miseries, the atmosphere, an example of a humanitarian crises. Those who are more fortunate occupy some abandoned buildings in the town, no electricity, no water.
The world integration does not exist there. The migrants and the local people share nothing in common, except the conclusion that the two cannot be one. Crime could be seen and felt, the apprehension was everywhere.
The police and army are patrolling the road, 24 hours, to defuse the build up tension. Maybe the deeply rooted criminality cannot be stopped anytime soon, but another 18th of September can be prevented.
Ewanfoh Obehi Peter
The interview by Piervincenzo Canale to Italian MP Touadi about Castel Volturno
Africanews.it interview Jean-Leonard Touadi, first Italian black MP
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