image courtesy of L’Albero della Vita

A border within the city: a journey into the Milan hub.

My four-parts immersive reportage for Open Migration on the migrant hub that received 118.000 people in three years in Milano has now been fully translated. When I started out, I thought if I spent enough time on this metaphorical border, I would gather enough insight into the life of both refugees and people who allowed them to change their lives. It’s been a very strong experience, and I collected all four parts in one place, here.

In the first part I tell the story of how the hub was born on the cold marble of the Central Station in 2013, when most of the refugees were Syrians, and how it morphed into a larger and more structured effort coordinated by the City Council, and today occupies a series of large unused railway depots.

In the second part, a Syrian member of the staff tells the story of how meeting refugees completely changed her life. We also hear how most of the women who arrive at the hub have been raped in Libya, and some are pregnant of their rapers.

In the third part, we enter the hub’s storehouse, where the MIlanese keep sending or bringing donations; we meet doctor Mohamed Boustani, a Syrian Milanese who’s been taking care of refugees for three years; and we meet Omar, from Eritrea, who crossed Sudan, Egypt and the sea to get here.

In the fourth and last part, all the people we met at the hub look at the future, includng that of children and unaccompanied minors. Assessor Pierfrancesco Majorino, who led the solidarity effort for three years, takes a look at the future too.