Samstag, 19. Dezember 2015

The migrant hunt is open

Faruk, a young migrant from an African country rich of diamond mines, gets off the train with sad and empty eyes full of fear, together with other two friends he met on his journey. Notwithstanding his young age, Faruk has gone through a lot: A mother who was killed in his country, a younger brother who did not survive the desert and the violence of military people trained by European military, a father, destroyed by the pain of losing first his wife and then his little son, who vanished at sea.

Faruk tells us this story and cries, his tears do not stop for a good half an hour in which the silence is sovereign. Faruk has been played in Lampedusa because he has been considered an economic migrant. Faruk did not have the possibility to ask for asylum, because the Italian authorities in the only working hotspot do not give everybody the possibility to request international protection, and they do it in a discretional and shameful way. Faruk does not want to talk any more or to trust people, because with 24 years of age he already encountered death too many times – and this encounter left indelible traces and, as it is often said, the eyes are the mirrors of the soul and Faruk’s soul is really extinguished!
We accompany Faruk and his friends to have something to eat, offering him the opportunity to sleep under a roof – but that rejection he was handed over in Agrigento took away from him also the last opportunity to have a life. Faruk does not want the help of a lawyer because Italians are “mean and overbearing” and he decides to keep his rejection in the pocket and go to other places. Before saying goodbye, Faruk asks us to pray for his family and in particular for his little brother, showing us a photograph he keeps with extreme care.

The three youngsters who have been intercepted at the station are part of the army of desperate persons that has been created by the prefecture of Agrigento by fulfilling the indications received by the Ministry of Interior under European pressure – the result is that in Agrigento they continue to reject also Ethiopians and Somalis and even unaccompanied minors. The situation is becoming increasingly severe and, notwithstanding the pressure of multiple parties, the institutions in Agrigento behave like outlaws:  A free port that has been handed over to fortress Europe, where practices that violate the dignity of people are systematically put into place.

At the hotspot of Lampedusa, where recently there were up to 1.200 people forced to sleep in the open as the maximum capacity of the facility is 400 places, those who refused to give their fingerprints are actually abandoned at the facility of Contrada Imbricola, waiting until they “give in”. According to those who have been hold back at the island’s facility, who refuses to give their fingerprints are forced to watch the operations of transferring those migrants who have already been identified, and hence they are derided for their decision of not allowing to be identified.

On the contrary, people who are from countries that have bilateral agreements with Italy (such as Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria) can be immediately transferred to a C.I.E* and from there they are repatriated; of course they are not always guaranteed the possibility to access the procedure of requesting international protection. The absence of right on Lampedusa is creating problems also to those who may wish to be reunited with family members already living on European soil, considering that many of these persons are rejected because not adequately informed about that opportunity.

And it seems as there is no end to violence, since on the island there are practices of psychological oppression put into place that aim at demolishing people, as happened to an Iraqi family of 8 persons (among which three women – a very ill elderly lady and two minors) who could have been reunited to a family member living in Switzerland, but they all refused to give their fingerprints because they received the news that Switzerland does not apply the procedure of re-distribution. This family has been kept at the hotspot of Lampedusa for almost a month, from November 5 to December 10, without that anyone examined their situation. These persons have allegedly been seriously insulted by a “sheriff” official and “invited” to go back from where they came from. When they gave in, they were immediately transferred to another Italian facility.

Various persons told us that inside the hotspot they did not receive any legal information concerning the possibility to access some form of protection, neither did they have the possibility to express their will to request asylum. Nigerians, after they declared their country of origin, were asked to sign a document of which they did not know the content, and without releasing them a copy of it. Of course, for all of them a notification of their refoulment was the result of it. Other migrants further told us that some persons are led by the police to indicate who was piloting the boat on which they travelled, promising them a permit of residency.

This behavior of closure causes incidents that the authorities scientifically want to happen: For example on Lampedusa, where – after having been on hunger strike for days because they did not want to have their fingerprints taken and were asking to be able to go to another country of their choice (and not according to the availability of re-distribution shares) – about 200 Eritreans – went to the streets on Friday demonstrating their wish for freedom; they feel like prisoners of an impregnable fortress, they feel sacrificed victims of a system without pity that results into victims every day ( and that no newspaper or tv remembers any more; of course some inhabitants of Lampedusa start to repeat that it would end like in September 2015, with the “migrant hunt”. People are tiered of false promises and of watching so many young, extremely young persons die from within – put onto the street with such ease in front of the legitimate and actual request of some humanity.

As it happened yesterday in Trapani, where 48 migrants demonstrated for the unwanted transfer which, they say, might result in a further slowdown of the infinite procedure of requesting asylum. (

In this favorable atmosphere, xenophobic, racist and fascist sentiments restart to mobilize; they have no hindrance (thanks to national and European politics): In Palermo some people distribute flyers asking for not opening new facilities for migrants, moved by the fear to see the territory ruined; in Alcamo a man runs over two unaccompanied minors hosted by a specialized reception centre who were protesting against the unacceptable bureaucratic delays of the public administration; in Caltanissetta the police is able to hinder the lynching of migrants because one of them, according to a local, had harassed a girl; in Agrigento people complain for the strong presence of migrants at the train station (; in other smaller cities migrants can’t get out of reception centres because they are insulted by people passing by.

All this is wanted by the State, which has found its scapegoat and is presenting it to all people of any social class for keeping away attention from what it is doing, or actually not doing, thus creating an ever-increasing poverty and disseminating hatred among the population.

We hope to be wrong, but meanwhile Faruk is on a train that escapes from the word “end” that we set on his heels!

Alberto Biondo
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation: Chiara Guccione

*CIE – Centro di Identificazione ed Espulsione: detention centre