In Palermo, those who don’t eat because there is no more illegal work

Il mercato della Vucciria, a Palermo

Rome (NEV), April 18, 2020 – Protestant churches in the front row in direct solidarity with the most vulnerable population. The last example comes from the Waldensian Church of Palermo, which has recently activated a funds collection for the distribution of basic necessities, aimed in particular at those left without work, because they are employed in the underground economy.
“We received a request for help from our Ghanaian brothers and sisters – explains Pastor Peter Ciaccio -, who had never asked us anything before, except for interpreting help (at the doctor’s, at the police headquarters), or occasionally for a particular expense. This time the request was generalized: everyone is in need and, basically, they asked us for money to buy food”.
Hence the decision to take charge of this problem immediately.
“We did a quick investigation – continues the pastor – and verified that there are about thirty people, mostly Ghanaians, except for an Ivorian family, who lost their jobs overnight due to the lock down. What kind of work? Almost all irregular workers: cleaners, caregivers, parking attendants… We tried to understand what we could do concretely. We came to the conclusion that we had to activate the solidarity fund. The fund was already there but it was limited to small initiatives. Instead, this operation requires at least 300 Euro per week. We made an appeal to our community and, at the same time, we were also contacted by people with whom we normally have collaborations for cultural initiatives, who asked us to participate because they trusted us. Result: in 4 days we collected more than 2000 Euro. The help we give is small – continues Peter Ciaccio – but we know that migrant people are able to perform miracles with little money. The help consists of food and some money cash. Fortunately, we have some persons who have freedom of movement and who committed themselves to deliver the aid. Considering that those who continue to work outside in these weeks work more than before, we are particularly grateful for this additional service. The initiative will continue as long as it is needed. We will continue the project until the lock down occurs. Then we will see how the situation evolves”.

The Municipality of Palermo has organized an economic-food support system for about 15 thousand families. But it will be necessary to understand how the situation evolves in the coming weeks, not only in Palermo but throughout the South and wherever there are people who are particularly vulnerable and blackmailed from the point of view of work and rights.

The knot is how to help those who are irregular workers. The Minister of Labor, Nunzia Catalfo, recently declared that “illegal work should not exist” but “unfortunately undeclared work is a plague that does exist. It is clear that we must think of all those people who are in an emergency for various reasons. So an emergency income is provided for all people without income”. A complex and delicate issue, because it presupposes the recognition of a situation of widespread illegality. However, in the meantime, this situation places the families of those who worked illegally in a dramatic situation.