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13 Jul 2020

Lorenzo Tondo & Marta Bellingreri, The Guardian

Italy: Migrant worker deaths expose poor conditions as new visa scheme fails to address problems

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"Brutal deaths of exploited migrants shine a spotlight on Italy's farms", 13 July 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the extent to which Italy is reliant on its migrant workforce, many of whom work with no formal contracts or official paperwork...

In May, a panicked Italian government, fearing a catastrophic collapse of its agricultural sector, allowed undocumented migrants to apply for a six-month work permit allowing them to legally stay in the country.

Take-up of the new scheme has been less than enthusiastic. The government hoped to regularise at least 300,000 workers, yet according to data from the interior ministry released by Amnesty International only about 80,000 migrants have so far applied, and 88% of applications are not related to agriculture.

The main reason appears to be the terms under which undocumented migrants can apply. Only those whose right to work expired after 31 October are eligible, yet most of those who bring in the harvest every year, many of whom risked their lives to reach Europe, have been living and working illegally in Italy for years...

Workers also say that the visa scheme does nothing to address the exploitation, violence and mistreatment they endure in Italy...

A wave of violence and migrant killings has highlighted the plight of the men and women who have become so crucial to the Italian economy...