Illegal immigration is an ordinary phenomenon in Europe. The indistinctive category of ‘Gypsies’ or ‘nomads’, in Italy especially, is the most feared in the collective imaginary. As result, Roma people are seen like a whole negative ethnic group to keep aside. Mass media contribute to spread this wrong and monocular idea in society, making the development of survival strategies more difficult for them. In Palermo, as in many other Italian cities, there is a Roma settlement, called ‘la Favorita’, located near the stadium, within an area designated a natural reserve, where they live in conditions of extreme degradation.
In 2007, The Roma camp has killed again.
The condition in which Gypsies (Kosovars, Serbs and Montenegrins) are left abandoned, for over twenty years in the field, has killed Vera, a Montenegrin woman. In fact, after three days of agony in hospital, the doctors were not able to understand the reason for continuous bleeding and then the state of her coma. Vera died in a rainy evening, while in the camp, between puddles and rats, men, women and children who had waited in vain for news of her amelioration, lighted a fire around which to celebrate the wake. Vera’s death, the more unfair because apparently inexplicable, is only the latest of several deaths due to environmental factors occurring within the so-called Gypsy camp.
They are usually called nomads but they are not nomads; they were born and grew up in Palermo, they can no longer return to their countries of origin. Moreover they are kept in a state of perpetual exclusion from immigration laws so unjust as inapplicable to Roma, and arbitrary administrative practices that are increasingly slow. Also if Italy has been condemned by the European organisations for the housing conditions in which Roma are forced, local governments do not take concrete measures and are not responsible. Usually local administrators request the intervention of the police for enforcement action only, forgetting that the condition of many Roma irregularities is the result of the perverse link that the Bossi-Fini law has established between the contract and work permit residence, as well as the substantial denial of the right to stay for asylum, humanitarian protection, for health reasons or in the interests of the child. When the Roma are entitled to a residence permit, their practices are completed at last.
Elisabetta Di Giovanni, At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries; 2011, Vol. 64