Mittwoch, 6. Mai 2015

Newsletter Borderline Sicilia - April 2015

  • Amongst the thousands of new arrivals, the biggest shipwreck of migrants in the mediterranean
  • The drama of the Welcome Centres
  • A poorly run system results in the violation of rights
  • The fight continues for those who are not free to choose how to build a better future
  • Donate your 5 per thousand to borderline sicilia onlus!!
  • Info and contact
Amongst the thousands of new arrivals, the biggest shipwreck of migrants in the Mediterranean
Thousands of migrants have arrived on the coast of Sicily this month, after surviving the living hell in Libya and running the ever higher risk of crossing the sea. Almost every arrival is burdened with memories of those who did not survive. At the beginning of the month around one hundred migrants arrived in Messina, rescued from the sea along with around a thousand migrants, including one corpse. Those who arrived were temporarily sent to the former barracks of Bisconti, which was reopened after months of closure.
Others arrived in Porto Empedocle to be hastily brought to the nearby Welcome Centres, which are already at full capacity.
News of more deaths arrived from a capsized boat in the sea off Libya.
The number of victims is increasing, and the migrants who are saved have stories of more and more fraught crossings, including the story of a dead body thrown overboard only to be eaten by sharks.
Whilst the media begs for another state of emergency for the hundredth time, in the middle of the month we saw more than a thousand arrivals within two days. Some of the 585 new arrivals in Trapani were even transferred to Cie di Milo.
Another 893 reached the ports of Augusta and Pozzallo, and were transferred to neighbouring towns, among which the CARA* in Mineo. Only a minor part was transferred outside of Sicily.

A few days later: news of the biggest migrant shipwreck so far in the Mediterranean. We received information of 850 missing in a terrifying reconstruction given by 28 survivors, together with those who lost their lives; they had no other choice but to trust in the sea and hope to be rescued. Facing this large number of tragedies, and after the hypocritical condolences of the institutions, the European assembly is developing the reinforcement of the Triton scheme as a solution. But there is still no mention of opening legal channels of entry into Europe. A Europe that has more and more responsibility in light of these avoidable massacres.
In the meantime, the arrival of refugees is not stopping. Whilst the media are focused on the inquests of the last shipwreck, several hundred landed in Augusta, Pozzallo and Catania, and were transferred on heavily-armoured buses, and escorted through the city by the police in a sad procession.

The drama of the Welcome Centre
The numerable and foreseeable arrival of exhausted migrants, justifiably find the admission system for migrants more and more unprepared. With the sole excuse of the emergency, which unfortunately still manages to influence public opinion, the migrants are transferred directly to welcome centres, which are teetering at the limits of capacity. The first consequence of this is a noticeable worsening of the living conditions of the migrants and the protests of those who have been waiting for a long time to be accepted, such as at the CARA* in Pian Del Lago.

Once again at Pian Del Lago, an elderly migrant couple were left for more than a day outside the centre waiting for a place in the centre, without any form of assistance. Tangible proof of the intolerable management of these transfers.

The institutions congratulate themselves on the task force services for the arrivals, whilst the situation after the landings never make the news. There are transfers that do not take into account or respect the necessary conditions for protection, such as in the case of the two year old baby who was left at Lampedusa for 15 days, before having appropriate accommodation.

Or in the case of the migrants who were sent to centres, which were rundown and already known for their situation of total abandonment. The "Welcome machinery" seems to concern itself all too often with only the mere survival of the migrants, which therefore allows the manager to guarantee the survival of the centre.

It is clear that we have to continue taking into account these large numbers, when the new arrivals are sent to the already over-stretched facilities. And in these large numbers it is easy to disappear, to lose their own rights to help and legal protection, and to be able to start living again where they have arrived. 

Fortunately there are also those people who combat empty promisses and instigators of “the war between the poor” with concrete gestures. At the local market in a district of Palermo called Ballarò, a group of vendors spontanously gave their goods to some migrants who were passing in a bus, giving a real lecture in humanity and solidarity for those who speak of welcoming without having any knowledge about it.

In conjuction with the arrival of the survivors of the last shipwreck, a tent was set up at the port of Catania for the union of antiracist citizens. They work for a policy of welcoming and a management of the migration phenomenon that is in accordance with the protection of human rights.

A poorly run system results in the violation of rights
While the relentless emergencies continue to occur at sea, it has been months, even years, that communities and reception centres are lacking basic necessities. In Giarre, two communities for unaccompanied minors which, following numerous inspections by Social Services, have been declared unsuitable to be included on the official register for such centres, continue to receive payments from the Council of Catania. When questioned about this, the local government justified the situation by saying that the high number of arrivals has not allowed for a more severe control of the centres to take place. This only serves to confirm the complete disinterest in the quality of life of migrants within the centres.

Often the effects of poor management impacts on centre employees. At the former IPAB* Regina Elena in Catania, workers are currently demanding 16 months of pay owed to them. Employees of the Il Sorriso e San Francesco cooperative, operating in the Vizzini SPRAR* and part of the Group, are awaiting "only" four months' salary despite the fact that the allocated money has already been transferred to the organisation. It becomes easy to predict the knock on effect this must have on the commitment of the employees and, in turn, on living standards within the centres.

Among the many complications and scams of the "reception" system is the great 'flop' of the new territorial commissions: expensive institutes within which employees still require training and which are not yet up and running. In the meantime, newly arrived migrants must be squashed in with those in already over-crowded centres. The combination of discontent amongst the employees and the difficult living conditions of the migrants in these centres, results in the worsening of assistance and individual support for the migrants who become easy targets for all forms of exploitation.

In Pergusa, a suburb of Enna, around 100 migrants stay in a CAS*, yet only a fifth of them have received dates to appear in front of the Commission. Ongoing transfers and the lack of any legal assistance has led to the minimal advancement in their application procedures, despite the fact they have been in Italy for over nine months. The migrants' exasperation is, to say the least, justified. Their sentiments quickly turn to a more and more deep-rooted distrust of ever having a future in Italy, as well as a distrust of how the blatantly disastrous reception system is run.

The arrival at the new CAS* in Cava d'Aliga (Ragusa), has coincided with a speeding up in the application for documents for a group of around thirty Pakistani refugees, who were previously staying in the CARA* of Pian Del. Even if this new CAS, located in a former B&B, is able to provide legal and health assistance for migrants, it nonetheless lacks the possibility for the migrants to integrate with ease in their new environment, as it is situated a good distance from what is already a small residential area. It would appear that the right to integrate with locals is a luxury which can always come second.

The fight continues for those who are not free to choose how to build a better future
Refugees who choose to cross the sea know they are risking their lives, but sometimes, they can turn to the companionship of friends and fellow nationals who made the journey before them. A group of Somalis, who departed from Lybia, were able to call for help thanks to contact they had with friends, by phoning the alarm phone activated by the project Watch the Med, a solidarity network which concretely reacts in order to prevent deaths in the sea.

The fight to reach the place in which you want to restart your life, is ongoing for many, even after having landed in Italy. A group of Syrian migrants who arrived by boat in Pozzallo with the intention of going to northern Europe, refused to complete their process of identification, as this would have confined them to stay in Italy in order to obtain their documents here. It is yet another example of the impracticability of the Dublin regulations and a reminder of their urgent need for reform. During moments of tension in the Pozzallo CSPA (First Reception Centre), according to two witnesses: a Moroccan activist, Nawal Soufi, and a reporter from Al Jazeera who was present, it was necessary for the police to use force in order for the refugees to complete the procedure.

The unalterable possibility of a rethink on the politics of the reception system and the management of migration can be clearly seen in the city of Messina. It is a place which many migrants travel through or stay for short periods as they attempt or organise their escape north. In a system which is generally characterised by reception centres on the brink of collapse and serious cases of promiscuity amongst vulnerable subjects, migrants who are left to their own devices become highly blackmailable people who can easily be recruited by all kinds of traffickers. The Penelope Association, which for many years has dealt with the trade, exploitation and trafficking of human beings, indicates that the creation of a support network and the connection between different organisations throughout the region, is the starting point for providing individual assistance, something which we have forgotten is in fact an inviolable right, to everyone.

Donate your '5 per mille' to borderline sicilia onlus!!
The recent catastrophes at sea have left over 1,100 dead in one week alone. On a yearly basis, there are tens of thousands of victims of immigration in the Mediterranean. Borderline Sicilia is committed to giving a voice to these people who normally become just a number in news reports and statistics and to denouncing the abuse and violations within a system which more often does not embody the real notion of reception. Continue to donate your '5 per mille' to Borderline Sicilia (cod. fisc. 90021510889) this year. Help us give others a voice.

Info & Contacts
For further information on how to make your 5x1000 donation to Borderline Sicilia Onlus- cod. fisc. 90021510889 and for further updates on migration in Sicily, visit our blog or follow us on facebook  

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*CARA – Centro di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo: Hosting centre for asylum seekers
*IPAB – Istituto pubblico di assistenza e benessere: Charitable Public Assistance Institute
*SPRAR – Sistema di protezione per rifugiati e richiedenti asilo: Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees
*CAS – Centro di accoglienza straordinaria: Emergency Reception Centre