Italy: The Makeshift Camps of San Ferdinando

1 July 2017. “Fire in the San Ferdinando makeshift camp in Rosarno. One badly injured.”

27 January 2018. “Rosarno, fire in the San Ferdinando makeshift camp for migrants. One woman dead”.

I visited that makeshift camp a few weeks ago, together with EMERGENCY’s cultural mediators. I sat with them on the shuttle bus that, twice a day, drives around the fields were migrants work and takes those in need of care to our Polistena Outpatient Clinic. It isn’t the only makeshift camp in the Gioia Tauro valley. But the conditions are the same in every camp: inhumane, shameful, degrading for every human being.

It gets talked about once every six months: it takes a fire, or a casualty, for it to make the news. Two days of indignation, and then everything goes quiet again. It’s an unchanging, vicious cycle. When the news disappears from the spotlight, we consider ourselves absolved. When the media buzz is over, we forget that we’re all involved. Andrea Camilleri said, “after a while people start to get annoyed: ‘How long will they keep bothering us with this story!’. It’s saturation effect, it makes sure no one wants to hear about that scandal again”.

Then it’s no use sharing details of places like the makeshift camps anymore because we’ve changed the channel already. We don’t want to hear about it anymore. In the meantime, when the spotlights are off, ‘the migrants’ rebuild their shelters and go back to work in the fields. They do it with their heads held high, in silence, with dignity. That same dignity that they get denied everyday and that maybe, without us realising, is slowly corrupting our own.

— Caterina, EMERGENCY staff


Subscribe to the EMERGENCY USA newsletter:

Back To Top