Mittwoch, 30. April 2014

“Borderline Sicilia Onlus” wins the 2014 Alexander Langer Prize

The Langer Foundation’s Scientific Committee has deliberated to award the 2014 International Alexander Langer Prize to the nonprofit association “Borderline Sicilia Onlus”. The ceremony will take place during the traditional “Euromediterranea” convention in Bolzano, July 3-5.
Borderline Sicilia would like to thank the Langer Foundation for this important award: it strengthens our resolution to work for the protection of human rights, and to monitor Sicily’s current immigration issues, in hope of becoming the bearers of those very principles Alexander Langer embodied.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all voluntary workers, professionals, operators, and associations, who, over the past few years, have offered their precious contribution to the creation of a migration observatory for Sicily.

Press release from the Foundation

The Langer Foundation’s Scientific Committee has decided to award the 2014 International Alexander Langer Prize to the nonprofit association “Borderline Sicilia Onlus”. The ceremony will be held in Bolzano on July 4 2014, during the traditional “Euromediterranea” convention that will take place on July 3-5.

Alexander Langer – Euromediterranean brotherhood

“We believe it is time to undertake the construction of a new Euromediterranean brotherhood from a grassroots perspective, and to actively and critically follow the process through all the way up to the institutional and governmental level… Yet if we truly wish to give new life to the communal heritage shared by Mediterranean communities, peoples, citizens, ecosystems, economies and societies, and if we wish to encompass them within that greater integration process which is bringing closer Eastern and Western Europe – albeit with difficulty – then we must develop a new sensitivity, and grasp at the many occasions for action and inter-action.” (Alexander Langer, May 1995)


Borderline Sicilia Onlus (BS) was founded by a German political scientist relocated to Palermo, two young Sicilian attorneys, and two German film directors, as a reaction to a tragic event which they all had witnessed: the death by drowning of 17 young Egyptians and Palestinians, off the coast of Vendicari (Syracuse), on the night of October 28 2007. The victims had been buried quickly and without identification, and after that soon forgotten.

This tragedy at sea convinced Judith Gleitze, Paola Ottaviano, Germana Graceffo, Roman Herzog, and Heike Brunkhorst of the necessity to create a structure that would guarantee  continuous and systematic initiatives of active remembrance. In the wake of “Borderline Europe” ’s considerable field experience, they started a difficult investigation on the identity of the victims, in order to find family and friends back in their native countries. Finally, in October 2008, an event was held with the local population on the town’s shores, as a way to share memories and grief.

This first memorial day was followed in 2009 by a theatre play, “Europe Kills”, which reenacted five court cases related to shipwrecks that had occurred across the Mediterranean between 2002 and 2009. Four of such cases saw fishermen or ship crews charged with aiding and abetting, as they had rescued migrants from drowning.

In the same year, BS registers to the Register Office for Non-Profit Organisations, and to the Italian National Office Against Racial Discrimination (UNAR). In 2010, a tombstone sculpture is finally arranged on the cliff of the shipwreck, a token to remember both this tragedy and the countless victims of the Mediterranean.

Over the years, BS has systematically engaged itself in monitoring activities, advocacy, and awareness-raising campaigns on the protection of the rights of migrants and refugees. It has furthermore acquired international recognition, becoming an important reference point  abroad – in particular through the blog “siciliamigrants” – in terms of the access to primary sources concerning cases of racism and discrimination against migrants in Sicily. 


Active listening, legal support and consultancy

“I have experienced first-hand how vital it is to have an organic protocol regarding asylum matters which is able, among other things,  to create an efficient reception system offering fair conditions to migrants. I believe it is particularly in the latter’s regard that our work is most important, in several ways. Ranging from simply listening to them, which, beyond any rhetoric, is of considerable meaning (especially for asylum seekers who are kept in/confined to reception/detention centres removed from human settlements), to offering legal support , especially in cases of particular relevance, with the potential to create new jurisprudence.

The publication on the blog “siciliamigranti” of reports on the practices adopted by institutional and private actors concerning the arrival, residency, reception and detention of migrants, and their access to local services, as well as reports on any event related to the issue of migration to Sicily, represents a further crucial aspect of BS’ work: a free and independent press.” Elio Tozzi 

Anti-discrimination, research and mediation between actors

“I have been collaborating with Borderline Sicilia for years, so as to contrast those racist discriminatory “maneuvers” coming from institutions and so on. […] . Our presence on the territory is of paramount importance, as it allows us to examine all those emergency situations related to the presence of slums across Sicily, in particular during the harvest of grapes, tomatoes, and olives. In the area of Palermo, on the other hand, our difficult task is to bridge together the different urban realities; yet, thanks to our constant and incessant work, we are now recognized as a reliable association. This is extremely beneficial, because the upcoming opening of several SPRAR centres (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) in Palermo necessitates an effective mediation work, which ought to favour a fair interaction between all interested parties.” Alberto Biondo 

Monitoring and diffusion of good reception practices, and networking

“Through its monitoring, BS keeps constant watch on the different forms of reception (reception centres, migrant accommodation centres, sorting centres, refugee camps). The diffusion of information from an independent perspective makes the blog an important reference point for a high number of media professionals, both Italian and non-Italian. Thanks to our mobility and capillarity across Sicily, we can spread good practices in terms of integrated reception, as well as favour the implementation of our network at a regional level, therefore fostering a mutual comprehension of all the realities we come into contact with.” Giovanna Vaccaro 


Over the years, BS has developed two distinctive traits: the first one is the promotion of analyses and inquiries conducted on the field by a capillary web of organisations which are made of volunteers engaged in the themes of reception and antiracism. This work is visible on the blog “siciliamigranti”, which is translated into English and German on a voluntary basis; the blog has become a crucial reference point for citizens and professionals dealing with the elaboration of alternative proposals to traditional reception systems. In addition to a constant presence of operators on the territory, based on the “research-action” method, and regulated by a handbook that guarantees the comparability and thoroughness of information, the second distinctive trait is the attempt to interact with every institutional level that envisages complexities and subalternities, without prejudices: we are convinced that the rules of coexistence must be respected, yet we are also convinced that citizens are entitled to know such rules, discuss them in public, and participate in their revision as well.

With such sentiment, the Foundation’s Scientific Committee has decided to award the next 2014 International Alexander Langer Prize to the nonprofit association “Borderline Sicilia Onlus”, during the traditional “Euromediterranea” convention that will take place in Bolzano on July 3-5. Space will be given to tales and personal accounts, to the exchange of information and good practices between bearers of local, national and international experiences, both on the NGO and institutional levels. The focus shall be on proposals for the reform of asylum rights in the Italian and European legislations: a number of organisations have already begun this process on February 1 2014 by drafting together the “Chart of Lampedusa”, to which the Alexander Langer Foundation too has subscribed. The different aspects that characterize the path of those who seek a new place to live will be discussed in detail, ranging from an often tragic journey from native countries to the borders of Europe, to being first received and waiting to be regularized, to being fully accepted, with the aim of transforming these steps into occasions for dialogue and  interaction, rather than rejection. 


Borderline Sicilia Onlus
Via Ritiro n. 24 – 97015 Modica (RG), Italy
Tel. 0039 340 9802196
cf. 90021510889

Operational offices:

Via V. Emanuele n. 35 – Palermo
Via del Bosco n. 58 – Catania

Registered to the Register Office for Non-Profit Organisations (October 20 2009), and to the Italian National Office Against Racial Discrimination (UNAR).


The Borderline Sicilia network

The association collaborates with an external team of migration specialists, such as Prof. Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo from the University of Palermo, the journalist-author Gabriele Del Grande, Prof. Emilio Santoro from the University of Florence, Leonardo Marino esq. from the Tribunal of Agrigento, Filippo Finocchiaro esq. from the Tribunal of Catania, freelance journalist Alessio Genovese, historian Dr. Valentina Greco from the University of Bologna, journalist Antonio Mazzeo from Messina, ethno-sociologist Roberta Di Rosa from the University of Palermo.

The lobbying, monitoring, and advocacy activities across Sicily are mainly grounded in the network Borderline Sicilia Onlus has built over the years between local organisations working in the field of migration and antiracism: Palermo’s Antiracist Forum, the Sicilian branch of the Italian Association of Legal Studies on Migration (ASGI), Catania’s Antiracist Network, Caltanissetta’s Antiracist Network, Agrigento’s Caritas, Lampedusa’s “Askavusa” Association, Modica’s Association “The Clandestine”, Ragusa’s Association “Libera” Association, Trapani’s Peace Coordination Organisation.

The Sicilian network is supported by volunteers from the rest of Italy and Europe, principally during the summer or public holidays, who come to Sicily for a certain period of time in order to study, research on, or out of interest in, the topic itself.

For further information:

Alexander Langer Stiftung Foundation
Monika Weissensteiner
Euromediterranea 2014
Tel: 0471 977691 – cell.

The Alexander Langer Stiftung Foundation

The Alexander Langer Stiftung Foundation was created in 1997 in honour of Alexander Langer, politician and journalist from South Tyrol, whose intuition on the pacific coexistence between different ethnic groups, and on the coexistence between mankind and the environment, was directed in equal measure towards life in South Tyrol, Italy, Europe, and the world. Through its own initiatives, and by supporting those of others, the Foundation aims at developing and promoting the themes which Alexander Langer fought for, in order to live in a world of peace and of harmony with nature. Further information on the Foundation and its activities can be found on

The International Alexander Langer Prize

Since 1997, with the financial support in the past years of Bolzano’s Cassa di Risparmio Foundation, the Alexander Langer Stiftung Foundation has awarded an annual prize of 10.000€ to individuals or organizations that have greatly distinguished themselves in the protection of human and minority rights, of the environment, and in the diffusion of new lifestyles aiming at peace and at creative, peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

The Foundation’s Scientific and Guarantee Committee Members are:

Fabio Levi (President), Bettina Foa (Coordinator) Anna Maria Gentili, Andrea Lollini, Anna Bravo, Maria Bacchi, Francesco Palermo, Gianni Tamino, Christoph Baker, Massimo Luciani, Grazia Barbiero, Karin Abram, Paolo Bergamaschi, Mao Valpiana, Margit Pieber, Marianella Sclavi, Marijana Grandits, Pinuccia Montanari, Roberto De Bernardis..

Further information can be found on

Translation: Angela Paradiso