L’Aquila is dying

It’s difficult to talk about the situation in L’Aquila. It’s painful. I’ll let the figures do it.

17 months after the earthquake, 50.000 people are still displaced. Of these, only 15.000 have been temporarily accommodated in the c.a.s.e. project buildings – the huge plasterboard barracks sold by the government as a miracle. The “miracle” consists of 19 settlements placed around the destroyed city and far from each other, which cost the Italians 2.700 Euro by square metre, just like luxury flats. The truth is they are sleeping quarters, without public services, shops, community centres.

6th April, 3.32am...I wasn't laughing. Open the city again.

Another 3.800 people are still living in hotels and military barracks, and 25.000 have found alternative accommodation on their own. These are given 200 Euro per head by the state, but the payments are usually late. They were stopped in April despite assurances the payments would last until December 2010.

The rent on houses that are still fit for use has massively increased. Nobody intervened to moderate the prices. Everything is difficult, even buying some bread. You need a car to do everything. Access to the historic centre – which once was the hub of the city – is forbidden to its own residents. It’s been left to die, neglected and abandoned. And garrisoned by the army.

The huge University – 27.000 students – is going through a very difficult patch. There are no venues for classes, and the temporary ones are not adequate. The students themselves, once the heart of the local economy, have been hard hit by the rent raise.

Out of 72.000 residents, 15.000 are unemployed. Traders, artisans and professionals who lost their shops and offices struggle to find new venues – there are no places and there is no money, after a year and a half of inactivity.

L’Aquila hasn’t moved on since that 6th April. And it’s dying.

Anna Colasacco, L’Aquila

Translated by Italy Calling from a letter sent by a reader to the street magazine “Terre di Mezzo” (issue October 2010).

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