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A Word Still Not Out of Fashion: Inequality

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Those who detain world power use the word inequality all too rarely, although during the G20 Conference in London, thanks to the presence of President Obama, the word was mentioned a little more. Inequality is what Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, former Italian President of the Republic, affirms in some of his recent declarations. The question that he poses to the public is this: how can one create a way to solve the global crisis if not addressing the root causes? The cause of this global crises is inequality. In London and Strasburg we saw the Heads of State discuss several issues and some of the solutions they proposed were also innovative. But at the moment when Obama sat with Sarkozy in Strasbourg, very few people considered that Areva, the biggest government-supported French nuclear company, received the largest contract to extract uranium in Niger.

The site of Imouraren, close to Unesco World Heritage town of Agadez, is the second largest uranium mine of the world. In three years, Areva (and France) will need to sell this huge amount of uranium they will have extracted to break even the 1.2 billion euro start-up costs for this venture. For this reason, Sarkozy and Berlusconi signed an agreement only weeks before the G20 Conference that presumes Italy purchasing uranium from France for future, government-sponsored new nuclear plants in Italy. It is also for this reason that the Italian island of Lampedusa receives thousands of people by boat from Niger. Unfortunately , during his meeting with Sarkozy Berlusconi did not ask the French President for advice on immigration, one of Italy's, and therefore, Europe's, biggest problem. Indeed, this is a pertinent question because every month out of Namey, the capital of Niger, thousands of young people between the ages of 14 and 30 pay 250 euro to traffickers to take the "hope trip" through the desert to arrive in Tunisia and Lybia. Those who have the money and who survive the trip to the coast, (12% die before arriving in Europe), need to then pay the traffickers another 1.500 euro to take a boat to Lampedusa.

Without considering the suffering of these peoples who must travel for months across the desert to arrive in Libian and Tunisian refugee camps, the human trafficking is growing even more since the uranium mines were realized. The suk in Agadez is alive as never before and in this market of poverty it is easy to sell hopes. Young people come to Niger from many different African countries, attracted to the possibility of a job in the uranium mines or chance to escape to Europe. An Italian photo-journalist who lived with a Tuareg tribe for a while describes the life these days in Agadez: "Business is at 100%. One can find everything in the market, from used shoes to fresh bread and every day many people come here to buy their last food before hitting the desert". Young people full of hope and dreams. They are the brothers and sisters of the ones who passed through Agadez between 2003 and 2005 and survived the trip. Now is their turn to find a decent life in Europe.

But they do not know what is waiting for them. Since their brothers and sisters arrived in Italy, the law on immigration has changed and to be a "clandestino" nowadays is not so pleasant. Take Abdul, 35 years old form Senegal, who arrived 18 months ago in Italy after a one year journey that brought him first to Germany and then to Holland. He's a reggae singer who now performs with several groups in Rome. But twice already, he has been stopped by local police and has received a "decree of expulsion". The decree meant that he was supposed to leave the country within five days on his own expense. Of course, "who will give me the money to pay for my airfair back to Senegal, when I cannot work as I don't have the permission to work?" Thus Abdul, like many others, tries to live on day labor assignments, hoping for a future in which the word inequality will not be so fashionable.