Cavarzerani, Udine: inside and outside the walls

di Christina Lee –

Caserma Cavarzerani is encircled by high, stone walls. The ex-army barracks had been abandoned for over a decade before the Red Cross turned it into a small village populated by around five hundred young men – mainly Afghani and Pakistani refugees under 30.

D. is exchanging groceries with a group of men at the entrance to the barracks. Asylum seekers in Italy are entitled to EUR 2.50 allowance per day and today, a bag full of groceries purchased in town will feed him and his friends.
The gates open only four times per day to let detainees in or out, there are no cooking facilities inside and they tell me that the food they receive is “not good”. D. is young, good-looking and speaks fluent, accented English. He is university-educated, earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in his native Pakistan. He expects to spend around three months here. From behind the fence, D. spoke to me about the conditions inside: “It’s good, I like it here, but there’s nothing to do”.

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