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Unionist starts hunger strike in protest against appalling situation of migrants

The fate of hundreds of thousands undocumented foreign workers is at stake in Italy as the government is holding the estates general on economic recovery from the Coronavirus crisis in Rome.

On Tuesday, on the backdrop of a government conference named estates general, Ivorian USB trade unionist Aboubakar Soumahoro started a hunger strike in protest against the appalling situation of hundreds of thousands foreign workers in the agricultural and caregiving sectors in Italy.

The Estates General is a week-long meeting led by prime minister Giuseppe Conte that involves employers and unions which aims to strategise Italy’s recovery from the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Unionist Soumahoro – who has chained himself to a bench in Villa Pamphili- where the Stati Generali is taking place – appealed for a drastic change in the working conditions for migrants in the country.

Foreign workers are often illegally employed and made to work long hours under conditions that have been described as close to slavery.

Soumahoro also called for the scrapping of two security decrees introduced by anti-immigrant League party leader Matteo Salvini – when he was interior minister in 2018 – which makes it easier to expel migrants and strip them of the Italian citizenship and finally to annul a deal between Italy and Libya in 2017 which has forced tens of thousands of migrants to remain trapped in abusive Libyan detention camps where torture is rife.

The Italian Interior Ministry has recently warned that a new emergency is approaching as at least 20,000 migrants are poised to set out from the northern African coast toward Italy. Rome has promptly called for a common European strategy in response.

In a letter to the European Commission Rome has demanded an equitable distribution of asylum seekers among EU member states.

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