The waiting game: Life in a north Italy migrant camp


Mohamed Fatima is silhouetted against a sheetImage copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Life goes on: Mohamed Fatima from Mali, who is pregnant, is waiting for her case to be processed so she can move on from Fenoglio camp

About 100,000 people have arrived on Italian shores this year, after making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from Libya.

They are joining many thousands more asylum seekers and migrants already in the country – many stuck there after other European countries closed their borders.

About 450 of them can be found in the Fenoglio camp, outside Turin, which is run by the Italian Red Cross.

It is supposed to be a transit camp, from where migrants are quickly transferred to reception centres – but the logjam in the system means many end up spending months here.

Photographer Marco Panzetti met the inhabitants of the camp on behalf of the Red Cross.

Yakaub and his pregnant wife Mohamed FatimaImage copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Yakaub, 23, and his pregnant wife Mohamed Fatima, 20, sit inside their tent

Conditions are cramped. Couples sleep eight to a tent, with only hanging sheets for privacy.

Above, a young couple from Mali, 23-year-old Yakaub and his pregnant wife Mohamed Fatima, 20, sit inside their tent.

There are blocks of showers and toilets at the camp’s edge, and a communal kitchen that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Michael smiles for the camera.Image copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Michael, 30, from Nigeria

Michael is from Nigeria and has been living in Fenoglio for four months. He fled to Libya, where he intended to stay, because of conflict in his homeland.

However, because of his Christian faith, he became increasingly concerned about his safety and decided to make the crossing to Europe this summer.

“It’s risky crossing the sea,” he says. “If your home is good you won’t leave there, you won’t take such risks. We hear the stories of thousands of people who died looking for a green pasture.”

Like many others, Michael is waiting to be transferred to a formal reception centre, where he will live while waiting for his asylum claim to be heard.

“All we do here is eat and sleep, just waiting for the transfer,” he says.

Mohammed tends to some cucumbersImage copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Mohammed, 21, has lived at the camp for nearly three years

Fenoglio is also home to a smaller number of people who made the crossing to Italy in previous years.

Mohammed, 21, is busy tending to cucumbers, having found some work at a local organic farm. Originally from Gambia, he arrived in Europe almost three years ago.

Rigat Kebede, 18, and her new-born son Bitab, along with the boy's 22-year-old father, Stezgi WamnImage copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Stezgi Wamn, 22, Rigat Kebede, 18, and their newborn son, Bitab

But while some residents of the camp are there for the long haul, others are on the move.

A group of Eritreans are leaving the camp on a bus going to Rome, from where many will be taken to other European countries as part of the EU’s resettlement programme.

Among them are Stezgi Wamn, 22, Rigat Kebede, 18 and their newborn son Bitab, who arrived back at the camp from the hospital that very morning.

Abadit Tesfay (25) and her son Melab (10 months)Image copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Eritreans Abadit Tesfay, 25, and her 10-month-old son Melab

Abadit Tesfay, 25, and her 10-month-old son Melab will also be on the bus to Rome, from where they will go to Norway to live with her husband’s family.

“It’s know it’s very cold in Norway,” Abadit says.

Raja bakes breadImage copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Raja, 27, from Pakistan

Raja, 27, from Pakistan, is also employed by the farm as a baker.

“I like cooking,” he says, “it’s not hard for me. In Pakistan I used to bake some sweets, some curries.”

Raja arrived in Italy in 2015, at the height of the European refugee crisis, having fled Pakistan after his father was killed in gang violence. He travelled through Iran to Turkey and then made the crossing to Greece, eventually reaching Italy overland.

His wife and two daughters stayed behind in Pakistan and for eight months, they lost contact. The Red Cross was able to put them back in touch and he is now hoping they can join him in Italy.

Emmanuel leans against temporary shipping containersImage copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Emmanuel, 20

After over two years in Italy, Emmanuel is another refugee who works in the camp, cleaning and handing out food.

“Every day we do a distribution of things, give them T-shirts, trousers, shampoo, tissue paper, everything. Helping people like me who came through Libya,” he says.

At the start of this year, Emmanuel joined 14 other refugees from the camp to help the rescue effort following the Amatrice earthquake in central Italy.

“We went there to help people. We were helping Italians because they helped us first, so when they needed our help I had to go there and show them love and help them too.

“The Italians were surprised… it was really cool.”

Tesfu speaks on the phoneImage copyright Marco Panzetti
Image caption Tesfu, 37, from Eritrea

Each morning residents queue for the chance to call their families. They are only allowed five minutes, but provide a vital connection to loved ones back home.

Many languages can be heard when people call home. One of those calling is 37-year-old Tesfu, from Eritrea.

Tesfu left home in April 2016. He has a wife, a daughter and a 10-month-old son he has never met. “I tell them I miss them, of course. I wish they could join me,” he says.

“Yesterday I called my mother and father, it was very nice. Today it is my wife’s turn.”

A row of blue tents photographed from above.Image copyright Marco Panzetti

All photographs by Marco Panzetti on behalf of the British Red Cross

View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-41279430

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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