Montag, 20. April 2015

Elderly Asylum Seekers kept waiting outside CARA Pian del Lago for 24 hours

Last Wednesday we published the relative information regarding the transfer of 60 migrants, who had arrived in Palermo on the 14th of April, and were transferred that very morning to the CARA* of Pian del Lago. The centre was suddenly able to provide dozens of places, even though there was a list of Asylum Seekers that had been waiting for a place for weeks.
In particular, we told about the situation of an elderly couple who, along with their sons, were waiting for a week to be accepted and, after being summoned by the Police Headquarters for an appointment at 3 pm. were still waiting at the entrance at 8 pm.

The day after, we learnt that they were still there and that they had spent the whole night. When they arrived at the centre, carrying all of their belongings, convinced of being accepted to the centre given their summons, they were told that there was only one place available for the woman. This is the same problem that they have been facing since being summoned to the Welcome Centre the first day. A solution that they logically refused as the old woman could not enter CARA* without her family, the biggest reason being that her health problems do not enable her to have full independence and she has difficulties moving, requiring the continual assistance of her family. The authorities showed indifference in response to the family's second refusal of this solution, that once again was no solution.

And, sure enough, it was this indifference that led to these elderly people sitting on a seat for the whole night and the following morning. The only show of solidarity came from their fellow countrymen that live in the centre, and from those that have supported the protest of their sons opposed to the unacceptable conditions of their mother's admission and to the fact that their father's situation, over 70 years of age and with serious back problems, was not even taken into consideration.
Not even the UNHCR member, who arrived the very same morning to attend the Territorial Commission, tried to know about or tried to be able to find a solution to the extreme situation that is facing these two elderly and vulnerable asylum seekers.
At 3.30 pm. the following day, we saw the elderly couple and a man leaving in a car.
We were under the illusion that a solution had been found after the painfully long 24 hour wait, but that very same evening we learnt that in reality the car was only there to take them back into the centre of town and that they were told to wait until Monday when they will have potentially found a solution.
It is clear that the two elderly people, evidently in poor health, would never have been able to walk the 5km that separates the governmental Welcome Centre and the city. In fact, the area lacks access to public transport and does not have pavements or even street lighting. The continuous road accidents just act to confirm the danger and how impassable the road is, the victims are always asylum seekers staying at the Welcome Centre, forced to walk it every day, such is the punishment of staying in the centre. Between last September and today there have been 3 accidents, with the last one occurring only last week.
Finally, this morning the prefecture arranged for the costs to be met for the couple and one of their sons to join a project of SPRAR for nuclear families run by the "i Girasoli" association. Meanwhile new protests by asylum seekers waiting to be accepted occurred this morning in front of the gates of the Pian del Lago centre. The sudden availability of sixty overnight spaces, in response to the umpteenth emergency declared by the Home Minister of a state affected by the arrival of influxes of migrants for 25 years and that has once again failed to adopt migration and internal policies that meets the needs of this reality.
When a tragedy like the one last night happens, when even one migrant loses his or her life in the fatal trip that they are forced to take to reach the shores of Italy and Europe, we shouldn't keep looking to the naval vessels of the Mediterranean with nostagia, but to these migration policies and the effective protection of human rights of which Italy and Europe do not show a willingness to implement or defend.
Giovanna Vaccaro
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

*CARA: Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers

Translation: Charlotte Carew