In the southern Italian region of Puglia, the cliffs of the Gargano peninsula stretch out into the Adriatic Sea, offering breathtaking views. Its beaches are a magnet for tourists, but the area is also a key agricultural center.
Italy’s processed tomatoes are sold around the world, and about a third of them are produced here, in the province of Foggia.
But far from its tourist-packed beaches, the region is scattered with makeshift camps, known locally as ghettos, that are home to a migrant workforce that plants and harvests its crops.
Italy’s biggest labor union, CGIL, estimates that up to 12,000 migrants live in these camps in abject conditions. In some of these places, migrants say, the lack of basic services such as running water, electricity or waste disposal can have fatal consequences. Italian media reports that four migrants have died in such camps just in the last year: one of hypothermia, three in fires.
These makeshift communities are home to both legal and undocumented migrants from all over the world. They include EU citizens, often from Romania and Bulgaria, Afghans and Pakistanis, but most residents are young men from Africa.
They come here to find work as day laborers. But, according to labor unions and the national and regional government, many are exploited — forced to work long hours and earning far below the minimum wage.
Working for the gangmasters
When local farmers need to find cheap, readily available hand-pickers, rather…
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