Donnerstag, 31. Dezember 2015

Fortunately 2015 ended

The numbers of 2015 are horrible, they recall homicides, daily deaths that did not seem to end, fostered by policies that have not been corrected even when confronted with racism and the deaths of children.

931 - 237 - 150 - 200 - 73 are only the numbers of the latest arrivals – of minors, of Moroccan citizens, of migrants withhold at the new hotspot of Trapani and of those who demonstrated for days in Agrigento. 
Numbers and facts which reveal that the year 2015 ended exactly as it started, in total confusion, with the indifference of institutions and through the intervention of volunteers and activists who allow this system to still remain into place instead of crumbling.

On Monday 28 December, the Siem Pilot, just for sticking to the facts, docked in Palermo with 931 migrants of various origins. At the port the usual good will and availability of everybody was reenacted – the usual commitment, though, was not sufficient this time in light of the higher then expected number of minors and of people from the Maghreb. And the machinery collapsed.

237 minors were at the port and later stayed at the police station until late at night. In practice, their disembarkation lasted about 12 hours. This happened because the new directives foresee that minors, before being transferred to suitable facilities, have to transit through the police station immediately after arriving for having their photo and fingerprints taken. Of course, the work for the four police officers has been strenuous, considering that in addition to the minors there were also 200 Moroccan citizens who have been registered in the early morning hours a day after their arrival. They waited the whole day and the first night in Italy in an emergency room at the port without any possibility to get something to eat or to take breath. Just a cold pavement for them who in the end “have no right to stay in Italy!”.

In this complete confusion and strenuous working conditions for the officers of the prefecture in need of satisfying the requests of a deaf and blind Europe, those who paid are the weakest (the minors) and the unwanted (the Moroccans). There was no free place for the minors in Palermo, as happened other times, and therefore the prefecture and the town council asked the Caritas to take care of them in facilities that are suitable for minors. The result? An emergency accommodation for about 160 minors, who will have to be transferred as soon as possible by the town council (we doubt that they will be able to do so shortly). In such a context we expect that Save the Children monitors the situation of these young migrants and has the courage to denounce possible abuses or violations.

On the contrary, after 24hours of non-reception, the citizens of countries of the Maghreb received a notice of rejection, the “seven days”. After having been released by the prefecture, the 150 persons reached the central station of Palermo during the day of December 29, trying to depart for Rome. Without money or means of subsistence they unnecessarily crowded the station, as the Railway Police stopped them from getting onto a train without a valid ticket, thus forcing them to camp at he station the whole day. 150 citizens from the Maghreb made invisible by the law and treated worse then animals. The police carried out European orders as commended by the minister Alfano; the prefecture was not interested in social problems that derive from hundreds of people who are on the streets without support; the town council, already occupied with the plight of the minors, did not bother about the citizens from the Maghreb. As always in such a situation those who solved the problem were the volunteers together with members of the CONSULTA DELLE CULTURE, who managed without major difficulties to involve the Consulates of Morocco and Tunisia in order to let them pay for most of the train fares and buy something to eat – also with the support of the Caritas.

If in Palermo the year finished badly, the situation in Trapani is not much better, where the functioning of the new hotspot opened a week ago is unclear especially to its employers! Previously, Trapani hosted the 129 migrants who landed at the city of salt and who have been transferred to facilities in the north, as well as 200 migrants from the disembarkation of Palermo. For these migrants the process of identification is still ongoing, and until now no rejection for them but rather a relocation to the north of Italy. We wonder why the hotspot of Trapani does not reject as many persons as the one in Lampedusa, where the refoulments have been more than 200 since November 2015.

A system of complete confusion where those who pay for this are the migrants – like in Agrigento, where more than 50 migrants who have been rejected started a protest in front of the police station. They slept there for two days, loudly asking to be recognized the possibility to request asylum. After two days 73 migrants have been brought to the hub of Villa Sikania (in Siculiana) with the promise to get access to the asylum request procedure. A change of trend or only a temporarily answer for avoiding problems of social order?
As acknowledged in a whisper also by the officials who work hard every day in the field (police officers and officers of the prefecture), the system needs to be reformed. Secure rules for all and attention for the single person. Meanwhile, in this confusion and silence, on Lampedusa remain the Eritreans who demonstrated, probably in the belief of the institutions about them giving up and let their fingerprints being taken.

Abuses, discrimination, failed reception, and denial of rights have filled our reports and denunciations in 2015. Well, we hope that the wind changes, that the common sense and the state of law return, that 2016 will be different for all those men and women who look for life and freedom. This is our wish for 2016 – we, who want to keep on hoping!

Alberto Biondo
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Chiara Guccione