Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: migration


Jesus and his family, Dante, Camille Pissarro, Karl Marx, Joseph Conrad, Sigmund Freud, Marc Chagall, Vladimir Nabokov, Vladimir Lenin, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Anne Frank, Thomas Mann, Albert Eistein, Hanna Arendt, Bertold Brecht, Walter Gropius, Fritz Lang, Piet Mondrian, Henry Kissinger, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Madeleine Albright, Rigoberta Menchú, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Mona Hatoum, Isabel Allende, Wyclef Jean, Tenzin Gyatso, Edward Snowden.

Not to do list

This is a list of all the policies of the current Italian government (1 June 2018 – ongoing) that I wish were not there.

  • In June, the government blocked all NGO rescue ships from entering into Italian ports. Critics of the NGOs boats say they are a pull factor for immigration, encouraging and helping people to make the dangerous sea journey; charities say that the NGO boats are a vital lifeline, rescuing more than 88,000 people in the past two years (link)
  • In September, the government abolished humanitarian protection for asylum seekers. This is a form of protection for those not eligible for refugee status but who for various reason cannot be sent home. Over the last years, about one-fourth of asylum seekers has been granted humanitarian protection status, allowing them to have a residency permit and enabling them to work (link)
  • In September, the government approved the annual budget for the country. In the words of my friend Fabio, “the problem with it is not the amount of money spent but the way in which the money is spent. The problem is that rather than forecasting productive expenditure, this budget gives alms to that part of South Italy that lives out of welfare assistance and provides large tax amnesties for tax evaders of the North. More than change, this is berlusconi-2001 reloaded” (link)
  • In October, prominent members of the government expressed their support for an administrative measure taken by the mayor of the town of Lodi, who moved to deny the children of non-European citizens the free school meals and school buses provided for “locals” : foreign parents are required to meet near-impossible thresholds to prove they do not have income abroad. Lega leader Matteo Salvini welcomed the move, falsely suggesting that many of these families had “two, three, or four houses in their own country” and thus ought to pay themselves (link)
  • In October, minister Matteo Salvini endorsed the house arrest of the mayor of Riace, who in the last years has played host to thousands of migrants though employment and training programmes. As the mayor was under accusation of “aiding and abetting illegal immigration”, Matteo Salvini publicly welcomed the arrest by saying it “would serve as an example for others” while also vowing to dismantle the Riace model (link)
  • In October, the government announced the approval of a large tax amnesty proposal. However, the minister of the economic development Luigi Di Maio announced that the tax amnesty had been secretly sweetened into the final proposal without his consent as a “fudge by a mysterious hand” (!) and said he would report the matter to prosecutors (!!)  (link)
  • In October, the government announced it would suspend the working on the tunnel of the Brenner Base Tunnel, a planned 55-kilometre-long railway tunnel at the border between Austria and Italy. The tunnel is aimed at reducing pollution and traffic congestion in the area as the motorway on the Brenner Pass, one of the most important traffic connections between northern and southern Europe, is infamous for its frequent traffic jams and pollution. The hope was to relieve this situation by improving the railway connection between North Tyrol and South Tyrol with the new tunnel, which will allow trains to cross the Alps much faster. Working on th (link)

Updated: 19 October 2018

Giacomo Zandonini

There has been a heated debate on the role of the NGOs working to rescue asylum seekers in the Mediterranean this year. I know very little about this issue, even though it is closely related to my work as a researcher. One reason for my ignorance has to do with the fact that we receive very confusing information. Most of what we know is anecdotal, while we ignore the facts, the numbers, the rules, the institutions that are involved. The one person who has been trying to put things into context, provide some history, explain the rules and the sources of tension is Giacomo Zandonini.


Giacomo is a freelance journalist who has done serious and first-hand research on migration. In 2016 he produced the movie Wallah Je Te Jure, which tells the stories of men and women travelling along West African migration routes to Italy. Also in 2016 he spent two weeks on the boat Aquarius of the humanitarian NGO Sos Mediterraneé and then in 2017 he spent two more weeks on the boat Golfo Azzurro working for the humanitarian NGO Proactiva Open Arms.

There are a number of articles that Giacomo wrote. Here I will link those I have read myself. In English:
How the humanitarian NGOs operate at sea;
The long wait of young unaccompanied minors in Italy

In Italian:
Quelle notti a bordo della nave Golfo Azzurro a salvare gente in mare e raccogliere cadaveri;
Migranti, le Ong ne hanno salvati quasi 10 mila ma continuano a subire critiche e pressioni;
In Niger i migranti si preparano alla grande traversata

If you have half an hour spare time, you can also watch Giacomo’s talk at the Festival of Journalism held in Perugia in April this year (in Italian; however, there is a short part of the video that is just images and sounds recorded by Giacomo at the sea and you can watch it below). Giacomo and I write together for Unimondo. You can follow Giacomo on twitter here.

Please die where we can’t see you

On the emerging EU approach to refugees – original image here.

KAL cartoon on asylum seekers

As people move

I missed the presentation of this important report by ISTAT, the Italian National Institute of Statistics. It was presented at the end of December 2012, but I see it only now. It is a comprehensive study on migration to, from, and within Italy. I think there are three main points that are interesting to catch.

1. Immigration. From 2002 to 2011, inflows of foreign citizens were higher than three and a half million units. About one million entries apply only to citizens of Romania. 43% of foreign immigrants coming from Romania, Morocco, China and Ukraine. After peaking in 2007, EU-members show a downward trend that lasted until 2011, when it recorded a decrease of 13.8% over the previous year.

2. Emigration. For Italians, the main countries of destination were Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Emigrants to foreign countries have an average of 34 years. One quarter of Italian emigrants hold a university degree.

3. Internal migration. In 2011, changes of residence within the country amounted to about 1 million 358 thousand. Compared to 2010, there was an increase of 13,000 transfers. Transfers between the South and the Centre-North amounted to 173 000, accounting for 53% of interregional transfers: 112 000 originate in the South and 61 000 in the center-north. Most of the people who emigrate from the South to the North, move from big cities (Naples, Palermo, Bari). The majority of these people hold a university degree.

This picture tells us that inequalities between the north and the south of the country will continue to grow. Furthermore, if people with a university degree continue emigrating from big southern cities first, and then from the country, we will loose the bolsters for innovation and progress. On the other hand, large immigrant inflows are becoming a stable feature. At this regard, it is important to notice that Italian immigration policies are outdated and are unable to account for the changes that followed 1990 and the rise in international immigration. For this reason, the laws that regulate the integration of immigrants and citizenship entitlements will surely be at the centre of the Italian political agenda in the next decade. This is one of the reasons why my research interests focus on managing immigration, integration, and citizenship policies.