“Foreigners”, players of development

The Report on Migration, in the world, in Europe and Italy, presented in Expo Milan, compiled by the Migrantes Foundation (CEI) and by Caritas

Reversing the perspective of migrants as “players of development”: it’s the appeal of Msgr. Gian Carlo Perego, director general of the Migrantes Foundation (Italian Bishops’ Conference) and Msgr. Francesco Soddu, director general of Caritas Italy contained in the introduction to the new “Migrantes-Caritas Foundation Report”. The presentation of the 24th report took place in Milan on June 4 at the Expo Conference Centre. Active and propositional persons. The lengthy document starts from a reflection by Perego and Soddu on the profile and role of migrants arriving to Europe from distant countries for various reasons: from the quest of a job to the prospect of fleeing from wars and absolute poverty. It draws an overview of migration flows in the international and European context and focalises on the Italian situation, which is most exposed to arrivals from Africa and the Middle East marked by hunger, under-development, political instability, conflicts (ISIS), ethnic and religious persecutions. The Report, Perego and Poddu pointed out, views the migrant person as “an active and propositional person”, capable of “contributing to the development of the Country of arrival”. “Most times we hear news and descriptions of migrants as ‘those who ask’, ‘people that are in need’, whom ‘we must help’. But based on years-long experience”, Caritas and Migrantes reversed the perspective with the intention of showing how much “Italy and Europe receive from the migrants”. From history until today. Clearly, the interpretative key provided by the directors of Caritas and Migrantes will not be appreciated – or will even be unpleased – by many others: especially politicians, as well as journalists and many ordinary citizens for whom the presence of foreigners has become an obsession, a self-fuelled phobia, or an excuse to shuffle off onto others personal – sometimes legitimate – claims (starting with unemployment). Indeed, Perego and Soddu acknowledge that “the Italian history of migration is marked by a constant negative interpretation of this phenomenon, viewed as an emergency, as if to reject forty years of national history inevitably written with the migrants, who have become an integrating and structural part of national territories, demographically active, economically productive, culturally lively and religiously significant, indispensable for the future of a Country otherwise doomed to inexorably disappearing”. It would be equally useless to deny that the migration phenomena, whether “incoming” or “outgoing”, cause not always positive problems and novelties, opening the twofold perspective of a refusal and closure within the Country of destination, or the line diametrically opposed to that of integration, however complex and never lacking obstacles from the societies of arrival. After all, this is the leitmotiv of the current, often incoherent attempts to create a common migration policy at the level of the European Union. The numbers. How many people live in a Country different from their country of origin? The Report, compiled on the basis of national, European and UN data, shows that at the end of 2013 they amounted to 232 million, while in 1990 they were 154 million. These figures account only for the so-called “legal” migrations, leaving out migrants “without papers”, estimated at 10-15% of the total number of international migration flows, to say the least. A significant amount of world population is therefore on the move, most of whom from the South to the North of the planet. The 10 countries with the largest number of migrants – with some surprise – are the US, Russia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, Spain. Italy ranks 11th with 5 million “guests”, equivalent to 8% of the total population. There are 35 million migrants in the EU as a whole out of 500 million citizens. In the Italian peninsula. The Caritas-Migrantes Report thus delved into the Italian context, with an analysis of foreign nationalities present in larger numbers across the country (Romania, Albania, Morocco, China, Ukraine…), foreign families, marriages between immigrants along with “mixed” marriages (marked by a sharp increase), the age of immigrants, most of whom are young people (with thousands of unaccompanied minors) and half of whom are women. The Report features an accurate analysis of the professional activities of the immigrant population (at least to 2.5 million of them who have found a job): from personal services – notably “caregivers” – to hotels-catering, to construction and farming sectors. Other analyses focus on “multi-ethnic schools”, on the “new citizens”, on “crimes and imprisonment”: perhaps one of the areas where stereotyping and prejudices increase at a greater pace.

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