Emmanuel Appiah from Liberia, Adjli Amoako and Habib Sag from Ghana are three young Africans. They are wounded. They are victims of an unfair world. At this time, they survive working in the fields in Rosarno, near Reggio Calabria (southern Italy). Besides its face of hospitality and unparalleled humanity, the city of Rosarno also shows a face of extreme brutality.
Adjli Amoako and Habib Sag were injured on December 13 last year from gun shots fired from a car while walking along a road in Rosarno. Emmanuel Appiah has a fractured leg. A friend told us that he was running away frightened after the Carabinieri, the Italian police, had fired some shots into the air in an attempt to stop the group of people with whom he was.
They are Africans who labour the fields during the winter ensuring that fruit and vegetables arrive in markets across Europe. That same Europe that is building walls of laws and regulations to keep them excluded from any kind of progress. That Europe which is both an opportunity and a jail.
Africanews.it visited the former paper factory of Rosarno on December 18th 2008. It reports just now because of technical problems.
When we just arrived in Rosarno nobody knew where the former paper industry was. No one except some Africans citizens that we met along the road. After initial distrust, they told us they were happy that someone wanted to speak to them. “It doesn’t happen every day,” the oldest of three Nigerians said. “At the end of that road turn right. You’ll find an open gate on the left. You’ll ask for the Ghanaians. They have been affected. If they want to speak, they will tell you everything thay can”. “What do you mean?” we ask. “Some of them do not to talk to strangers whilst some other will refuse to be pictured in photos or videos. It’s for their security.”
We follow the instructions and soon we leave Rosarno and we drive beside the fields between San Ferdinando, Gioia Tauro and Rosarno itself. This is the area of the “Piana di Gioia Tauro”, as it is known in Italy. One of the most economically important areas because of its fields and, since 1999, because of one of the biggest ports in Europe: Gioia Tauro’s transhipment port.
We meet with Kissi Kouadio, 35 years old, a Ivory Coast citizen. He lives in Italy since 7 years. He worked for nearly two years at Iveco in a factory in the north. “Then I was dismissed without even telling me why. I looked for a lawyer to defend me. Nobody was willing to help me even when I could pay”, he said.
When we first arrived, the former paper factory seemed an unreal place. A grey building made of concrete, perhaps even bigger than a football field, surrounded by further reinforced concrete and small heaps of rubbish scattered here and there. Near the piles of trash these African persons are often forced to cook because there’s no other space left. Despite their hard work in the fields, they don’t even have the given possibility to rent a decent home and to get minimum health standards.
Kissi guided us inside. Life condtions, or rather of survival, are even worst of the more pessimistic forecast. They seem the ideal conditions for the spread of diseases due to lack of hygiene: trash is everywhere even beside eating corners, people sleep in rooms without air and without heating. The most serious thing is the lack of water and, above all, the lack of water where is most needed: the toilets.
“For three days we were left without water – Kissi said – but even now that we have it, it is not enough to clean the latrines properly.”
In the building there was also electricity until the factory was open and functioning of course. But now all that makes these people think about electricity are the remaining light bulbs. Obviously without electricity they are of no use. The same goes for heaters.
As soon as we are ready to leave the building, Kissi tells us to let the world know how they are forced to survive in such conditions in Italy. Whilst he talked to us, other friends come closer. In their languages they tell us, through Kissi, that it does not matter to them anymore about Italy, Europe and the so called “developed” countries. At home, they said, their lives are much better.
“Come in Ghana – adds one of them – and you’ll never be treated as we are treated here.”
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