Sonntag, 29. April 2012

Salinagrande: serious problems still persist despite an improvement in living conditions, police checks to "catch" irregular migrants increase

Conditions are still critical for many of the Tunisians in Trapani. After sustained pressure, the Salina CARA (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers) gave authorisation for the asylum seekers who were living outside the Centre to enter. Since we started the monitoring project in February, we have met around 30 asylum seekers of different nationalities, who live in the countryside near the Centre. They were sleeping in abandoned buildings, getting their drinking water from public drinking fountains and eating whatever those inside the Centre were able to give them. Now all of them have been accepted into the CARA, even those who had been thrown out because they had had periods of absence in order to look for work.
During our last visit on the 20th April, we learnt from the migrants that the Cooperative running the CARA had authorised the clean up of one of the buildings where the migrants stay. It was probably done in order to limit the protests carried out by some of the Tunisians. The building, which is property of the Church, was in very poor condition. The work was carried out by 20 migrants, the majority of whom were asylum seekers, who were waiting to enter the CARA. There have been some new arrivals in this building, some very young migrants. They only turned 18 a few months ago but their permits are about to run out. Referred to as "the kids", they arrived a year ago and were able to stay in family houses due to the fact they were still under 18. However, as soon as they had their birthdays, they no longer had the right to stay. They found some small odd jobs for a few months but these did not last due to the impact of the economic crisis and now many of them are afraid they won't be able to renew their permits of stay and will therefore become irregular migrants; more than anything they are afraid they will be arrested and end up at Milo or be repatriated. They were living with another 10 migrants, all of whom are irregular. Yesterday, 28th April, the police carried out a raid in the surrounding area, which triggered widespread panic. The irregular migrants managed to escape, thereby avoiding being locked up in the CIE (Immigration Detention Centre). The youngest ones stayed, they are regular, but are very afraid. On more than one occasion in the past, young men of the same age have become victims of organised crime and prostitution. Within the CARA, complaints by the 64 Afghans and Pakistanis continue. They have all complained about the fact they have been waiting for their appointment with the Commission for more than 6 months. Most of them have their interviews scheduled for June or July (they generally arrived at the CARA in October). Their biggest worry is that they have spent the whole winter shut up in the CARA and now that the work season in the fields is approaching, they still can't leave the Centre as they will risk missing their hearing with the Commission and losing the roof over their heads. Their worries are not so much concerned with the acceptance or even the application itself, as to what their prospects are for next winter. Another common complaint concerns the Italian language lessons which are offered inside the Centre. The three hours a week are not enough to allow the residents to learn Italian, especially when it is difficult for them to leave the Centre and put in practice what they have studied. For the many who are not granted a permit, there is no alternative but to become ghosts and live the life of the irregular migrant. Many of the irregular migrants have found work  in the fields near Marsala, Gela and Niscemi. Often the farmers prefer them to the regular migrants because they work for less and they live in abandoned buildings or in the surrounding countryside. These people are living completely illegally, in awful conditions, with the constant fear that there will be a police raid which will lead to their arrest and imprisonment in a CIE. And it is these people who are then termed shifty and suspicious.

Giorgia Listi, Diana Pisciotta