Donnerstag, 16. Juni 2016

Migrant Sicily Newsletter, May 2016

  • Lampedusa: migrants protest against inhumane treatment, for dignity and clarity
  • Hundreds of new deaths and disappearances. An unacceptable daily tragedy
  • Unaccompanied minors: extended detention at Pozzallo and delays in funds for the management of Sicilian migrant centres
  • The CARA* at Mineo is confirmed as the new Hotspot. Accounts of the use of force, and deportations from Ventimiglia
  • A dignified welcoming becomes merely a mirage: the case of the Gambian migrants in Palermo, and the minors at Fondachelli
  • News and events: Borderline Sicily, along with Oxfam Italia and the Diaconia Valdese, launches the #OpenEurope project. Seminar in Catania on reception and rejections
  • Info and contacts

Lampedusa: migrants protest against inhumane treatment, for dignity and clarity

Lampedusa is like an open-air prison. Migrants, illegitimately detained there in degrading conditions, have been protesting and began a hunger strike. They are determined not to accept the continual violations of their rights, the immoral imposition of a state that calls itself democratic, choosing not to be pawns within a system established on the basis of the economic, political and military interests of Fortress Europe. The reasons they provide in a press release concern all of us:

Despite the pressure from police, protests are continuing by those in precarious health conditions. The Hotspot is seeing punitive activities, and the first transfers of North African citizens who have passed from a state of illegitimate detention to forced repatriation to their country of origin.


The support and solidarity provided by anti-racist associations and by the people of Lampedusa has been criminalised by institutional actors. Borderline Sicily expresses its strong concern for such attitudes, and calls for respect in relation to those who support acts of civil disobedience and peaceful protest before a complete failure of European politics and a lack of respect for fundamental human rights.


After a long week of protesting, all the migrants present on the island have been identified, and returned to the Hotspot, where violations of their rights and inhumane detention continue. In the end, on an even more militarised island, the minimum of dissent has been neutralised by those concerned with defending their own interests.


Hundreds of new deaths and disappearances. An unacceptable daily tragedy

May began and concluded with the news of further shipwrecks and hundreds of deaths. Bodies frequently remain only as numbers, in a daily massacre which has become hidden or “managed” as if these were facts which emerged only in the moment of their mass media exposure, then falling back into indifference and never put into the context of the system which produced them. Those who do arrive – in ever more extreme conditions, and witnesses to this continuing tragedy – find themselves waiting within ever more militarised operations and “welcoming” centres as barriers to their futures. And the deaths continue in the deafening silence of out “democratic” civilisation.

Hundreds of migrants have again started to arrive, even via the Egyptian route. The mechanisms of investigation, identification and selection are being increasingly implemented at the point of disembarking, in ways irrespective of refugees' conditions of discomfort and vulnerability, and the transfers are frequently following a logic different from that of protection. The priorities remain those of control and investigations so as to identify presumed people smugglers, frequently minors, and not the protection of individuals. New arrivals remain as bodies, and not people.


The disembarking of thousands of people, frequently concentrated in the space of a few days, is showing the limits to a system that is already in total collapse at the beginning of the summer. Overcrowding, indiscriminate housing and continuous violations are sketching out an extremely alarming picture. In this context, a few people's good will becomes a functioning part of a predatory political economy, and to rebuilt faith for those who are fleeing from ever more inhuman situations seems an impossible task.


Unaccompanied minors: extended detention at Pozzallo and delays in funds for the management of Sicilian migrant centres

Within the Hotspot at Pozzallo the illegitimate detentions continue, in which dozens of unaccompanied minors are held for weeks. This is a practice that violates every right and is made more serious by the conditions of overcrowding, indiscriminate housing and the lack of services, as is the case in many centres. The visit by some MPs and the accusation by various associations threw some light on an unacceptable situation, for a few days, which has been going on for years. But the will for concrete change seems always further away.


In Agrigento there have, however, been peaceful protests by some of the managers of centres for minors, who have demonstrated along with the residents against the lateness of payments of ministerial funds, money that is indispensable for covering basic expenses and guaranteeing essential services. This is a crucial question that has direct and concrete consequences for the minors' living conditions, who are not protected but have instead been decisively abandoned.


The CARA* at Mineo is confirmed as the new Hotspot. Accounts of the use of force, and deportations from Ventimiglia

The CARA* at Mineo has been designates as a future Hotspot but is already being utilised as such. Beyond the physical structures, we have seen the Hotspot approach for months, in a mobile and pervasive way, applied at the ports or in centres not officially designated for this role, and frequently with the illegitimacy and violations that characterise the Hotspots. Some migrants transferred to Mineo have stories about beatings and the use of force by the police in order to obtain their fingerprints. This presents, for those who continue to run, new obstacles and abuses that nonetheless fail to prevent the desire for a future.


Mineo has been established as the symbolic location of illegitimate and repressive practices. At the end of the month dozens more migrants arrived at the Hotspot/CARA, who were rounded up at Ventimiglia and newly deported to Sicily by plane. A true odyssey in which many minors are being bounced from one part of the peninsula to another, always more exposed to trafficking networks and every kind of exploitation, nourished by our system of control and non-welcoming.


A dignified welcoming becomes merely a mirage: the case of the Gambian migrants in Palermo, and the minors at Fondachelli

Around fifty Gambian migrants peacefully protested in Palermo for dignified housing and to leave the emergency structures where they have lived for months. Aware of their rights and rooted in the desire from freedom and dignity, they requested no more than what is theirs by right, but which the government seems to have no intention of guaranteeing.


In the small town of Fondachelli Fantina, in the province of Messina, the mayor and the council bodies are directly managing a centre, housing 130 minors. The ban on visits and the manner of interaction in relation to all associations has not stopped us from understanding and denouncing the many violations of human rights and illegitimate practices that are being perpetrated within this centre.


Fortunately there are some small positive realities of resistance. Borderline Sicily visited the SPRAR centre at Pachino, a virtuous example of good reception and individual protection, where the declared objectives of integration and social inclusion are being translated into an effective project, introducing the migrants to the area and returning to some of them the faith necessary in order to build a dignified future.


News and events: Borderline Sicily, along with Oxfam Italia and the Diaconia Valdese, launches the #OpenEurope project. Seminar in Catania on reception and rejections

In Rome on May 19th Oxfam Italia launched the project OpenEurope, in partnership with Borderline Sicily and the Diaconia Valdese, designed to provide assistance to migrants excluded from the systems for welcoming and protection. The project is planning the use of a mobile team of Oxfam Italia workers who will move across the provinces of eastern Sicily, so as to provide material support and legal guidance to people in this situation. Borderline Sicily will provide legal assistance and the Diaconia Valdese will guarantee the reception of the most vulnerable cases.


On Saturday 21 May the seminar “Sicily and Migrants: A Dignified Welcome or Frontex and Rejections?” was held in Catania, organised by the Councils Solidarity Network (Rete dei Comuni Solidali) and in collaboration with the Catanian Antiracist Network (Rete Antirazzista Catanese). This was an occasion for stimulating ideas about the different bodies engaged in protecting refugees and constructing an alternative response from below to the politics of rejecting migrants.


Info and Contacts

For information about donation modalities to Borderline Sicilia Onlus – Banca Etica Popolare di Palermo Agenzia di Via Catania, 24 IBAN IT 28 Q 0501804600000000141148 Codice BIC CCRTIT2T84A – and about updates concerning migration in sicily go to: www.siciliamigranti.blogspot.com or folloq us on facebook: www.facebook.com/borderlinesicilia.onlus

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*CARA - Centro di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo: reception centre for asylum seekers    


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