Europe must join forces to govern immigration—supporting development in impacted African countries and integration in the most dynamic economies—because one country alone cannot end this problem, writes Attilio Moro.
By Attilio Moro
Special to Consortium News
Look at Via Merulana, in the center of Rome, between the two basilicas of Santa Maria Maggiore and San Giovanni. On the street and the surrounding area, up to Stazione Termini (Rome’s central train station), groups of young Africans sell various trinkets. Others lay on the sidewalk, half asleep.
One in three stores in the area are run by Bangladeshis. They sell to tourists small reproductions of the Colosseum, statues of Madonnas, religious calendars, and big pictures of the pope.
Bangladeshis, of course, are Muslim. Some of them are just employees. Some others have even taken this business over from Romans.
On one side of the street is Chinatown.
On the other, the posh neighborhood of Colle Oppio, overlooking the Colosseum.
The Bangladeshi and Chinese are established immigrants in this area. Africans are not. Most of them have just arrived. So newly arrived African immigrants and the Roman bourgeoisie live side by side—the former on the street, the latter in their villas.
Of course, the bourgeoisie of Colle Oppio are among the staunchest supporters of the hard line on immigration of the new Luigi Di Maio-Matteo Salvini government. But so are the inhabitants of the most deprived neighborhoods of Rome, where immigrants tend to concentrate, resulting in a sordid fight among poor.
This picture is typical in most Italian cities. Most of the young Africans here have arrived recently, rescued at sea by the marines of “Operazione Sofia,” or Operation Sophia, an Italian naval mission on the Mediterranean Sea, sponsored and paid for by the European Union.
Sophia was intended to destroy the smugglers’ vessels and rescue migrants in distress. In three years since it was launched, Sophia has destroyed 500 hundred small boats, which were meant to be lost any way by smugglers, who typically…