Donnerstag, 20. Dezember 2012

Asylum Seeker's latest protest momentarily suspended at the Mineo Cara (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers)

This morning's manifestation which saw several hundred asylum seekers take part, has recently drawn to a close. The action started when the asylum seekers, the majority of whom were from Eritrea, left the Mineo Cara (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers) this morning and blocked the roundabout on the Catania-Gela road for several hours. The migrants then headed towards Catania and, for hours, blocked the slip roads for Palagonia and Ramacca. They were protesting against several factors: the recognition of the right to asylum, which they have seen disappear from many cases similar to their own; the slowness of the bureaucracy which keeps them waiting for months on end; and, the overcrowding of the Centre. Many asylum seekers are having to wait over ten months before receiving their permit of stay. The delays are mainly caused by the numerous, often fabricated application rejections which entail biblical waits: firstly, to actually arrive and secondly, to carry out the consequent appeals.

It took just two days after the interethnic meeting which took place on the 18th December to mark the Global Day of Action against Racism (an event which unfortunately remained untouched by the media) and four days since the initial protest which was largely carried out by Ethiopians of Oromo ethnicity, for the migrants to once again take action to speak out against the inhumane living conditions in which they are forced to live and to express their right to be active subjects.

The indifference which has been shown towards the situation in the Mineo Cara has reached unprecedented levels. The migrants which are "hosted" in the Centre are merely the objects of a big business which is being generated around them. They are placed indefinitely in a structure which is more than 10kms from the nearest inhabited centre and become easy prey for those looking for cheap labour to work the surrounding land for the grand sum of €15-€20 a day. Then when the migrants, who by right should receive a work permit after 35 days which enables them to work (and look for work) for a period of 6 months, protest, the tragedies they are living merely become problems for the forces of order to deal with by means of repression. Furthermore, there are other people who not only remain supportive of the work carried out by the police but actually call for the further militarisation of our land. The Mineo Cara is currently at over 40% of its maximum capacity (2700 residents for 1800 places). The residents are of mixed nationality (some of which are in conflict) and religion. It would therefore be of no great surprise were the situation to become unmanageable. But the former minister Maroni needed to take action with his version of this pseudo- reception after the shameful events which took place on Lampedusa last year. The current government continues to follow the path laid down by its predecessors, immune to the enormous squandering of public resources (the premises alone are €6 million per year which goes directly into the pocket of Pizzarotti Spa di Parma). 

We speak out against the Mineo Cara, a place of profound suffering (8 protests which have taken place outside the Centre and numerous attempted suicides have been reported from within), which has stolen over a year in the life or thousands of migrants who should have been able to make direct use of a permit of stay on humanitarian grounds (in cases where their requests for asylum has been rejected). This is especially true for those who arrived as a result of the war in Lybia (it is worth noting here that 85% of military operations came from the Birgi (Trapani) and Sigonella bases), as happened in previous years for those fleeing the warzones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

With half of the public money which has been squandered it would have been possible to offer reception to the same number of people in small and medium sized towns through the development of SPRAR (Protection Service for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) projects. The aim of which is to favour the progressive social insertion of the migrants and optimise their possibility of finding work, thereby injecting much needed resources back into the damaged local economy.

In the upcoming weeks, we will continue to call for the closure of the Mineo Cara and, as an alternative, we propose the increase and development of SPRAR projects in the surrounding towns and villages. In doing so, we invite associations and local businesses and, above all, the migrants themselves to work together to help build a sustainable future for all involved.

Catania Anti- Racist Network