Left Behind

Italy 2020

Left Behind is the story of the last, of all those who have been left behind, forgotten by the decrees, by the laws of social and humanitarian aid during the Covid-19 emergency.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed not only the world as we knew it but also the way of communicating and the work of the photojournalists on the field engaged to document it.

From the first days of March, Italy, my country, found itself at the center of the coronavirus epidemic, where the number of infections and deaths in a few weeks reached the highest levels in the world. The outbreak of the epidemic has been in the Lombardy province of Bergamo, less than 200 km from where I was born, and it brought down the country, its population, and the national health system.

From the 15th of March until today I have been documenting the coronavirus emergency from inside, creating relationships with the patients, the families, and the health workers, trying to give a face and a name to the thousands of people who have become only numbers in the daily Italian news shared by the mass media. Thanks to the courage of many people who let me enter into their homes and lives, thanks to the support of the Italian Red Cross, and commissioned by The New York Times, I developed a photographic in-depth essay from the coronavirus epicenter.

Following the strict safety protocol to minimize the risk of infection (bodysuit, double gloves, goggles, mask N95, and P100 filters) I always worked with the full consent of the people photographed. For many weeks I documented the emergency and its consequences in northern Italy, developing various contacts and logistic support on-site.

But beyond the public health emergency, coronavirus has had a big impact also on the country's economy with harder effects on precarious and vulnerable communities and weaker people. Due to the epidemic, the unemployment, and the lack of state help, the poverty rate is growing: thousands of migrants, homeless people of any citizenship, and Italian citizens are falling into incredible financial difficulties. Many people have lost their jobs and survive only thanks to the limited humanitarian and social aid left.

Left Behind is the story of the last, of all those who have been left behind, forgotten by the decrees, by the laws of social and humanitarian aid during the Covid-19 emergency.

More than two hundred migrants have been welcomed by Priest Don Davide, in the Patronato reception center in Bergamo, which was on lockdown due to the spread of the epidemic, and with the closure, the work opportunities of the guests were reduced. Just like in Lombardy, where many of the dormitories have closed their doors and many people have remained on the street. Baranzate, on the outskirts of Milan, is the town in Italy with the largest number of migrants, more than 33% of the total population. And outside, in the streets of the many northern cities left empty by the lockdown, the difficulties of the homeless people have increased. They are helped by the activities of the Red Cross and individual initiatives. How do these people which found themselves living on the edge, survive? How does the pandemic highlight social inequalities? Since Covid-19 experience is pushing entire sections of the population to the edge of existence, and what are the individual and collective responses?