Samstag, 30. Juni 2012

Newsletter Migrantsicily - June 2012

• New arrivals on the Agrigento coast: traffickers in custody yet no sign of vessels
• Migrants riot on Linosa. The new organisation of the North Africa Emergency
• Egyptian migrants arrive on the Ragusa coast and at the port of Catania
• World Refugee Day is celebrated in Italy
• The Trapani CIE (Immigration Detention Centre) Serraino Vulpitta closes
• Lampedusa is not an island: A Buon Diritto Onlus publishes a dossier on the facts of immigration in 2011
• Events programmed for July 2012: Boat4People and LampedusaInFestival

The recent arrivals of north African citizens on the Agrigento coast confirm that there has been a change of route and also of method in the way in which these migrants are coming to Italy.
The arrivals which took place in June between Palma di Montechiaro and Agrigento have one common factor: there is no trace of the vessel which brought the migrants to Sicily. These circumstances have not slowed down the hard work of the authorities investigating the cases, who work to identify the presumed smugglers even when the migrants have not been brought ashore by the traffickers.
In countries like Tunisia, where fishing is one of the main industries, the aggravation of the economic climate due to the devastation which took place in the Maghreb region last year, seems to have driven many a ship owner to attempt human cargoes in addition to that of fish. Yet how is it possible to justify the actions of the police who have been placing migrants who arrive on our shores in this way in to custody? Furthermore, the migrants often require medical attention which is probably due to the difficulties of swimming ashore during the night.
The last boat to arrive with refugees from the sub-Sahara was on the 20th June in Lampedusa. A speed boat with 50 Eritreans aboard arrived on one of the island's beaches- a sign that nothing has changed for those arriving from Lybia.  And even though the CSPA (First Reception Centre) in Contrada Imbriacola was ready to receive up to 250 "guests", the migrants were instead sent to Cala Creta, a residence on the island where they were locked up whilst awaiting transfer to Porto Empedocle.
Even though arrivals are sporadic during this period of good weather, it is not a sign of anything positive. The air is heavy with expected refoulements and shipwrecks.

Holding migrants illegally in improvised emergency structures continues to occur on the Pelagie islands. While the centre in Lampedusa, which despite being ready for weeks now (following restructuring works carried out at no small cost to the tax payer) remains closed. Many years' experience in this sector have taught us that improvising the way in which people are held without the support of the law in terms of rights and security, will result in great risks being taken.
On Linosa, the 24 Tunisians who arrived on the island in the last couple of days are being held in an improvised camp. The migrants have manifested their intolerance of the situation by ransacking their accommodation. Everything risked catching fire due to a faulty electrical wiring. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported, but understandably there are complaints from the islanders.
In the last few days, the Minister of the Interior has renewed its convention with the organisations involved in the Praesidium project in Sicily up until the end of the year. The UNHCR has decided not to renew contracts for cultural mediators in Sicily. As for the reception system, it should be noted that the Civil Protection will be officially excluded from the management of the North African Emergency as of 30th June -an agreement that was established under the Berlusconi government in April 2011 and extended until December 2012.  The Ministry of the Economy and Finance ousted the Civil Protection, which deals with the North African Emergency, after the financial upset following the poor management of funds made available by the government until June 2012.
The Civil Protection will however, remain responsible for payments made by the companies who run the reception centres and deal with the placement of migrants until 30th June.
In reality, since last April the system of transfer and placement of migrants has functioned without the collaboration of the Civil Protection after the first financial scandals began to emerge.
This situation only makes worse the already precarious state of "health" of reception in Sicily, especially for the vulnerable such as unaccompanied minors.
The SPRAR (Protection System for Aslyum Seekers and Refugees) project "The Sunflowers" of Mazzarino (CL) is the apple of the eye for the reception of foreign minors and the first centre in Sicily to sign a convention with the Civil Protection last April. Even though the coordinators of the project do not complain about the financial difficulties they are facing, they feel it is very important to make it clear that the majority of reception centres for emergency have not received funding for some months now and for some centres it has been even a year. These are emergency reception structures for adults and what are known as "bridge" structures (reception and placement centres for unaccompanied minors). The employees in the Mazzarino centre have in these months on the express request of the Civil Protection, provided free legal consultation for the ten similar structures throughout Sicily. This has been carried out in the absence of other professional groups who would normally be used in such cases.
The news of the ousting of the Civil Protection has not yet been made official and workers in the sector are asking if it would be possible, for placement of unaccompanied minors at least to return as a responsibility of the Prefecture.

Departures continue from Egypt where the political situation remains charged with tensions and violence. A boat carrying 72 people was intercepted off the Ragusan coast on the 12th June.
18 people, including 3 minors, were arrested on the charge of aiding illegal immigration.
On the 27th June, another boat with 115 people aboard arrived in Catania.
Read the information from the local Anti- Racist associations:

The 20th June is World Refugee Day. Set up by the UNHCR, there are a variety of celebrations which take place to mark the event. These often include numerous speeches, the contents of which tend to jar with the real situation faced by refugees in the world today. Recent data from the UNHCR states that 2011 was a record year for migration.
In Italy, this can be seen through the "North Africa Emergency" which began over a year ago. In 2011, 62,692 migrants arrived in Italy by sea and there were over 34,000 applications for international protection. A large proportion of these applications have already been rejected by the Territorial Commission and whilst various associations have requested humanitarian protection for those who were forced to flee the war in Lybia, no answer has yet come from the authorities.
Despite the huge amounts of public money allocated to emergency in Italy, the problems associated with providing accommodation for migrants are enormous. According to the recent report, "Invisible Migrants" based on the situation in Rome, the use of unofficial accommodation has risen exponentially, indicating the severity of the situation.
Finally, despite the European Court of Justice's conviction over the practice of refoulements at sea, the agreements made with Lybia, which the current government seem to be upholding, do not appear to have changed.
Sicily has Europe's largest Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers (CARA) in Mineo, which organised a day of events with various guests to mark World Refugee Day. We have published the words of the Mayor of Palagonia, one of the boroughs of Caltagirone (near the Centre), which explain why the CARA should be closed.

On 26th June 2012, The Trapani Immigration Office confirmed that the CIE (Immigration Detention Centre) Serraino Vulpitta has been closed. The official reason given is for restructuring work to be carried out. It is nonetheless a fact that the closure of this centre, one of the worst in Italy, occurred following a visit on 11th May by the European MP Alessandra Siragusa together with three other colleagues.
Italian non-governmental organisations had been applying pressure in the months leading up to its closure denouncing the inhumane living conditions which the migrants faced inside the Sicilian CIEs.
The Trapani Centre, in particular, motivated some deputees to deal with this difficult issue, promising a report to outline the problems of the system of detention for migrants on administrative grounds. 

In the last 10 years, Italian politics has shown itself to be "substantially xenophobic" with regard to immigration. This is the message to emerge from a report written on what has happened to migrants and asylum seekers who arrived in Italy in 2011 wriiten by A Buon Diritto Onlus under the direction of the scientific committee of Laura Balbo, Luigi Ferrajoli, Tamar Pitch, Giorgio Rebuffa, Eligio Resta and Stefano Rodotà. It provides an interesting critical reading of the decisions made in Italian politics in the area of immigration.

We want to highlight two important events focussing on immigration to be held in Sicily in July.
“Boats4People" is being promoted by an international committee which includes non- governmental organisations from Africa and Europe. It is organised in Sicily by Borderline Sicilia Onlus, Borderline Europe and Arci. Its purpose is to draw the attention of the media and the public to the deaths that occur at sea and to defending the rights of the migrants whilst at sea.
The upcoming events will take place in Palermo on the 5th, 6th and 7th July. The programme is available on:
“LampedusaInFestival” is Europe's most southern cinematographic festival and this summer it is celebrating its fourth year. From 19th to 23rd July, the Pelagie island will host the category of "Memory and Migration" and "Democracy.
Askavusa, the Lampedusan association organising the event has financed the entire festival. For further information on how to make donations and to receive the programme see: