Sonntag, 12. Januar 2014

Eritrean refugees from the 3rd of October shipwreck got transferred from Lampedusa only after 101 days

101 days have passed since the shipwreck of 3rd of October, when 366 people lost their lives. Only today, the last seven Eritreans, six men and one woman, who were forced to stay on the island for juridical reasons (according to the statements of minister Alfano), were transferred from the CSPA (First Reception Centre) on Lampedusa. It took 101 days to transfer them to Palermo, where they will be questioned at court, tomorrow. Thus, only six Syrian refugees remain on the island, forced to stay for juridical reasons, too. Also they have been on Lampedusa since months, as they arrived on 14th of October. According to the vice mayor of Lampedusa, they will be transferred on 15th of January.
At 9.30 am, we are at the port of Lampedusa, the ferry has already arrived and the presence of the police indicates, that the refugees will really be transferred today and by ship. When the seven Eritreans arrive at the port, they are accompanied by a large group of police men and carabinieri, that outnumbers them by far. We watch moving scenes between the migrants and some Lampedusians, who have come to the harbour to say goodbye. We ask a co-worker of the organisation “Save the Children”, if the only woman among the refugees is going to be accompanied by female staff during her transfer to Palermo, a long journey of 10 hours by ship and two more by bus. As far as he knows, there should be a woman among the group of carabinieri to accompany the female refugee, but we did not see female staff among the group of police men and carabinieri going on board of the ferry. We also ask the Italian Red Cross, which is in charge to administrate the centre on Lampedusa for the moment, if there will be psychological support for the Eritreans, who do not feel well, in Palermo. We hope so, they tell us.

When the moment of saying good bye has arrived, the faces of the Eritreans do not reveal a lot of what they have endured here. But some of them are very calm, hugging the only persons tightly, who stood close to them during this horrible period of time. “Now,” tells us an employee of the Red Cross, “they feel themselves lost again. They do not know, what the future brings for them and they have suffered a lot.” She is right for sure, and this is why we repeat: Why have they been forced to stay more than three months on Lampedusa, instead of being transferred to a more quiet place, to receive the adequate support, especially the psycological one, which they needed? The Italian government has kept them in this complete insecurity. Now they have to restart orienting themselves again, after the horror they have lived through and seen.

We are in contact with some of the Eritreans and will monitor their transfers, after they have reached Sicily. Nobody, neither the mayor nor the migrants themselves, the employees, or the authorities are capable (or willing) to tell us, where the migrants will be accomodated after they have testified at court in Palermo. This is the transparency provided by the authorities...
We hope, there is a future for these people.

After taking a look at the First Reception Centre, standing above the centre at Imbriacola, we can imagine how the last “inhabitants” - the six Syrians who are still waiting to be transferred – must feel, staying in an emptiness, where the restruction work has already started. They are already kept there for 90 days. It's enough. Transfer them!

Judith Gleitze, Borderline Sicilia/borderline-europe

translation: Philine Seydel