Donnerstag, 21. Mai 2015

The bodies at the bottom of the ocean are not part of the market

The latest shameful episode in Europe's immigration system concerns the treatment of those who have lost their lives at sea. According to Salvi, the public prosecutor, the 900 bodies from recent tragedies will not be recuperated from the sea due to the high costs of such an operation. The problem has instead been passed on to the government, which, with its standard hypocrisy, has stated, "everything that can be done will be done in order to try and recuperate the bodies of our brothers and sisters," ( Renzi, Prime Minister). First we kill them and then we let them rot at the bottom of the sea, erasing all traces of any wrongdoing, convinced that any memories of innocent lives will also disappear from our consciousness.

BROTHERS & SISTERS? How can we call them brothers and sisters when we continue to exploit them and rob their cities of origin and kill them in the dessert or at sea?
For the victims of the Costa Crociera cruise ship off the island of Giglio, the investigations have been advancing for some time now, and rightly so, and no one has ever questioned the costs. Many people died in that tragedy, people who actively contribute to the economy. The people of that tragedy are not the brothers and sisters of Renzi's second division; nor are they people in search of freedom, who with great courage (brought about as the result of desperation) try to get through Europe's strong fortress; nor are they people who by migrating automatically denounce a system of oppression which world powers try to keep hidden.
Even if we don't believe the European politicians and their hypocritical words, having stated that the shipwrecked bodies will be reclaimed from the sea, we are lying in wait for  Renzi, counting the days and waiting for the moment when the bodies are found.

In Sicily new reception centers are being opened to increase the number of places available. The new structures will not have the state run direct system of reliability, as in the past, but the conventions will be decided by the government's famous invitation to tender set out last year (Interior Minister Notice- Department for Civil Liberty and Immigration- n. 7418, 20 June 2014 & n. 5484, 27 June 2014). As confirmed to us on the quiet by the Sicilian Prefectures, the delay has been due to the dubious authority of some of the 'characters' involved in these new immigration businesses.

Whilst waiting for the reception system to expand in Sicily, migrants are being sent to other parts of Italy (excluding Calabria and Puglia where possible), in order to avoid concentrating funding in the hands of few. Nonetheless we have already learnt that 'mafia capitale' has no borders or barriers when it comes to making agreements to make money off the back of the migrants.
Encouraged by the knowledge that the national reception system has been inundated, many have attempted their luck by particpating in public tenders. Yet luckily those not meeting the requirements have been excluded. Nonetheless, those meeting the anti-mafia prerequisites have been awarded contracts even if, in some cases, such groups have had absolutely no experience whatsoever of working in the immigration sector. The lists contains names of new associations and cooperatives who have never worked in any capacity with the reception of migrants, having completely different professional backgrounds. As in the past this type of situation is likely to cause several problems, as has been seen in Marsala. Two new centres have recently been opened there, revealing a total lack of basic knowledge about how a reception centre should be run.
Another phenomenon is that of awarding conventions to the 'renown few' who have held the oligopoly of reception in Sicily for many years, often with less than convincing results- to name a few: Sol.co (present in Palermo and Catania and in the process of expanding through agreements with other cooperatives- including those with religious affliations such as Don Calabria), the Badiagrande and Insieme cooperatives (Trapani), the Acuarinto association (Agrigento) etc. who directly or indirectly control numerous structures of all types:  from CAS*, CARA**, even CIE*** to centres for minors and SPRARs****.

Staying in Trapani, the CARA run by Badiagrande will finally be closing its doors at the end of May, after having its closure date pushed back several times (it was initially scheduled for February) as a result of the length of time it has taken to relocate the number of migrants within the centre. Recently, the centre has also been used in emergencies to process migrants arriving by sea. The recently opened centres are barely adequate for rehousing those from the CARA (there are 2,300 migrants in the province). We are therefore wondering where, exactly, the migrants who arrive in Trapani will be housed seeing that all the centres are full and that there is no reception centre for primary care (CPSA) such as the former Villa Sikania in Agrigento (which we have only recently discovered to be a CSPA after it was initially opened as a CAS) or associations such as Caritas in Palermo, who as soon as new migrants arrive provide access to emergency centres.

Believing that the centres will naturally begin to empty seems to be an illusion, given that the doubling in number of the territorial commissions seems to have occurred, up until now, on paper only. The new commissions are not yet up and running due to incomplete training programmes (see Agrigento) while the old ones are going through some kind of new setting up period due to staff changes and other aspects (see Palermo and Trapani). All of this creates a stalemate-processing times are long, way too long- which brings happiness to only the cooperatives with holes in their balance sheets caused by late payments from the public institutions. The consequences of all of this are paid for by many migrants who stand in queues in Sicilian stations. They are tired of waiting in vain and attempt to try their fortunes elsewhere. WHAT? If they are among the lucky few, they will be transferred to the North, escorted by police in buses which the prefecture have booked through private companies because the government no longer provides charter flights for the interregional movement of migrants; or possibly, they will receive help from family members or friends who manage to send them money which continues to provide hope. The many other unlucky ones become victims of traffickers, who can easily harass them and who continue to exploit them.

Unfortunately, as has often been reported, migrants prove useful to a system which earns at their expense. Very often cooperatives do not provide adequate services, despite being laid out in the conventions. In our most recent monitoring of the situation in Agrigento, Sister Antonella confirmed an instance of this. It appears that many of the younger residents of the centre prefer to eat in the canteen run by Solidarietà because in the centre there is a lack of mediators to speak to and communicate problems with, because the food and clothing provided is insufficient or inadequate, and more often than not of poor quality. In Agrigento the Solidarietà's canteen provides lunch for around 100 people, many of whom are residents in the region's surrounding SPRARs*, where the standards should be of excellence!

Alberto Biondo e Giovanna Fioravanti
Borderline Sicilia

*CAS: Extraordinary reception centre
**CARA: Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers
***CIE: Centre for identification and expulsion
****SPRAR – Protection facilities for asylum seekers and refugees

Translated by Claire Owen

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