Montag, 25. Januar 2016

Caltanissetta: a visit in the refugee camp

It is the third winter in a row in which we are monitoring the refugees encamped around the governmental centre of Pian del Lago in Caltanissetta. Our last visit here dates back to October. The living conditions become harder during winter season for those who have to live in the streets for several weeks, before being granted access to the procedures of obtaining international protection.
Foto: Clement Delamotte
Last Thursday afternoon, as we arrived below the bridge nearby the governmental centre of Pian del Lago, we met around ten people trying to warm up around a small campfire set up with some dried wood under a piece of cloth held up by sticks. We were suddenly joined by other people who came closer, curious about our visit.

After having introduced ourselves and having explained the purpose of our visit, the first thing they unitedly say is that they are suffering mostly from the cold and the hunger. They also add the problem of living without sanitation and without running water for washing themselves. Also in our opinion hygienic conditions there are worrisome; and things will become worse with the heat, since there are huge amounts of refuse lying around. The residents continued to tell us that several people among them became ill more than once, while at the moment they all are in a discreet state of health. This will obviously worsen with the continuation of the living conditions mentioned above. We ask for general information about who is living in the camps and the reasons for their stay. The number of people and the waiting time correspond to those found last October. The residents tell us that they were around one hundred people and that most of them are living below the bridge right by the camp, while a few dozens are placed in various areas within the surroundings. They went on telling us that all people who were waiting to be granted access to the administrative procedures to obtain international protection and to enter the system of reception either were from Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Foto: Clement Delamotte

We ask how long the average waiting time for the whole procedure is. About one month is the clear answer. So we notice that the waiting time is approximately the same as it was last October, but that it has become much shorter within the last two years.

However, such situations remain unacceptable. Those migrants do not obtain any humanitarian assistance according to their basic needs, living in conditions of total neglect. The only help they receive is the one from their compatriots who bring them the food they receive from the CARA*, but that’s all. Nobody we talked to actually even knows the ambulance’s emergency number to call its services in urgent cases.

Giovanna Vaccaro
Borderline Sicilia

*CARA: Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers

Translated by: David Hofstetter