abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb
Article

19 Mar 2020

Author:
Elisa Oddone, Al Jazeera

Coronavirus fears for Italy's exploited African fruit pickers

See all tags

As Italy's north struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus, fears are growing in the south for thousands of migrant workers, mostly from Africa, who pick fruit and vegetables for a pittance and live in overcrowded tent camps and shantytowns. 

The health infrastructure in the south is not as advanced as that in the north, and a vast infection outbreak could be devastating...

In the north, foreign farm workers hailing from Eastern Europe have returned to their home countries, choosing to risk poverty over disease, and there are no new arrivals.

But fruit pickers in the south are stuck in camps, often lacking water and electricity and facing exploitation...

Agricultural employers often work by the "caporalato", an illegal employment system in which labourers are exploited for little pay...

[S]trongly advised social distancing measures are almost impossible to implement...

"This requires an immediate intervention from the authorities to put these people in a condition of safety and dignity," Francesco Piobbichi, who works with Mediterranean Hope FCEI, a project run by Italy's Evangelical Church Federation, told Al Jazeera. "These workers are key to fill supermarkets' shelves with fresh fruits and vegetables. We cannot deny them protection amid the emergency...

 

Story Timeline