Tags / World War 2
June 20 is World Refugee Day.
In 2014, global refugee numbers were higher than they have ever been since World War II. In 2015, the problem has only gotten worse.
There are currently over 50 million refugees in the world and more than %50 of them are children. Approximately half of the world's refugees are from just three countries: Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia.
The response to this massive international crisis has been limited, with most refugee aid programs desperately underfunded. Amnesty International has called the lack of robust international response "A Conspiracy of Neglect." With little help on the way, the future of the world's displaced remains uncertain.
Migration to the post-war Belgium originated with the establishment of an agreement between the Italian and Belgian governments on 23 June 1946 in Rome, and the signing of a treaty that led them to "exchange" Italian workforce with Belgian coal.
To understand why this agreement we should look at Italy and Belgium as they were at the end of World War II. In Italy, enormous material damage, with two million unemployed and some areas of the country was in total misery. In the mines of Wallonia in Belgium, the lack of manpower curbed the activities of coal mining and therefore energy production: to increase production they used the prisoners of war, German soldiers, Hungarians and even Russians, then, the agreement of 1946, 50,000 arrive Italians workers, with their work these men will allow the Italian government to buy the Belgian coal. Thanks to Italian emigrants, the production of the mines went up to 6-7 million tons per year. This also allowed the steel and metallurgical industries to increase their production.
The Italian-Belgian agreement provided the transfer of 50,000 workers under age 35 in good health, for a 12 month contract as miner, in exchange for 200 kg of coal per day guaranteed to Italy.
The emigrants embarked every Tuesday night at the station in Milan and underwent a medical examination on the same train, where they had to sign the work contracts. They arrived on Thursday afternoon in Basel, divided according to the mine in which they were intended to work and were then transported to the "cellar", the same barracks where they had been held prisoners of war. Sometimes began to work the next day.
The Marcinelle tragedy, with the deaths of hundreds of Italians in a coal mine in 1956, marks, even symbolically, the end of Italian emigration in Belgium. A part of the immigrant population in Belgium will stabilize, but since the disaster there will be no more emigration of Italians to the mining areas.
This documentary tells the stories of some of these men, still in their twenties, they left our country and their province in search of a future and a better life.
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