Terra Munda

Terra Munda: Preventing the Exploitation and Promoting the Rehabilitation and Integration of Vulnerable Migrants

Migrants were among the first demographic groups to witnesses the consequences of the 2007 recession in Italy. Many decided to move to the countryside in Southern Italy, where there is a lower cost of living and finding temporary work is easier; yet, it is also more likely to be at risk of labour exploitation. Long-term migrants who lost their jobs, along with newcomers, represent an inexhaustible source of cheap labor both for the so-called “caporali” and for ruthless local farmers. Thousands of migrants working irregularly and unprotected in the agricultural sector in Apulia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, and Sicily live in "ghettos", slums or abandoned houses with insufficient access to health services, often without electricity, running water or sewerage systems. 

The lack of concrete alternatives, the continuous use of unreported employment, and the difficulties in accessing local opportunities, make the situation all the more complex.

Since 2011, the Italian government has launched several initiatives tackling this widespread phenomenon by criminalizing irregular intermediation and labour exploitation and creating specific protection schemes for victims of severe labor exploitation. The extension of criminal charge against companies who gain direct benefit from labour exploitation is also a recent positive measure introduced by the government. In addition to the strengthening of quality-assurance mechanisms (such as the empowerment of “Rete Lavoro Agricolo di Qualità”), these types of intervention need to be supported by efficient controls over the territory.


General objectives

Building on national government efforts and drawing from our experience in counter trafficking in persons, IOM works to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers in the agricultural sector, with a particular focus on the social responsibility and engagement of the private sector.

Based on the needs assessment of migrant workers living in informal settlements in the Regions of Campania and Apulia conducted by the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, we aim at reinforcing synergies with the civil society and the institutions that have been working profitably in the territory.


● Provide cultural mediation and legal counselling to vulnerable migrants at risk of labour and sexual exploitation and living within “ghettos" and other informal settlements;
● Provide orientation to integration services already existing in the regions of Apulia and Campania;
● Socio-economic support to migrant workers at risk of labour exploitation and living in informal settlements, through the activation of programmes aimed at promoting their working, housing and linguistic integration.
● Support local authorities and the civil society in the development of sustainable housing solutions for migrant workers employed in seasonal crops in the regions of Apulia and Campania;