Oria, a beautiful town full of history in the province of Brindisi where I live, has become the main place where the immigrants form north Africa are housed after they have arrived in Lampedusa, waiting for the permit. There is a refugee camp on the road for Manduria, in the province of Taranto, with a lot of tents that is a subject of many polemics because the immigrants are not free and they live in a very difficult situation: hot in summer, cold in winter, dirty bathrooms, etc. In April, when this camp was set up, several journalists came here to tell the situation. Among them Stephen Beard, of American Public Media, who interviewed the tunisian immigrant Mohammed Munedi and me. Here it is the interview.
STEPHEN BEARD: The Church of San Domenico on the edge of a sunlit piazza in the ancient hill town of Oria. This pretty scene draws tourists from all over Europe. But in recent weeks, there’s been an influx of less welcome visitors.
Young Tunisian men brawl in the street. This only serves to deepen local hostility to the migrants.
Man speaking Italian
This man says they drink, they argue, they fight, they break bottles in the street. Twenty-five thousand Tunisians have arrived in Italy since January, when the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali was ousted. When he fell, his control over illegal migration collapsed. Mohammed Munedi joined the exodus.
MOHAMMED MUNEDI: Maybe looking for nice life. Job, house. Something like this.
He’s now one of hundreds of young Tunisians living in a temporary reception center outside Oria. Fauzi Bushekse is another.
FAUZI BUSHEKSE: If I have work, I will help my family.
The fact that these young men are looking for work makes them even less popular here. There are few jobs even for the locals. Not everyone, though, is hostile to the incomers.
Volunteers hand out shoes and clothes to the migrants. Organizer Guiseppe Vitale says Italians should be the first to sympathize with people seeking their fortune abroad.
GIUSEPPE VITALE: We have a duty because we were immigrants in the past. We went in the past in the United States and in Germany, above all.
Vitale hopes other, wealthier parts of Italy and Europe will put out the welcome mat for the migrants. So far there’s little sign of that.
You can also listen this interview.
Now is not possible to come to this camp: the police don’t allows anyone to enter. We are waiting for the transfer of the camp at the former USAF base in San Vito dei Normanni, near Brindisi. This is the decision of the authorities. Stephen Beard contacted me today for a new interview: this story will continue. Stay tuned.