Donnerstag, 28. Juli 2016

Dozens of corpses on the Libyan beaches. The body of yet another victim of the crossing arrives at Pozzallo

On July 23rd the media reported the news of around forty bodies given up by the sea and left on the Libyan beach of Sabrata. This number was destined to rise at the weekend, when a total of 87 bodies were recovered from the same beach.

Sabrata is one of the points of departure for the crossing used by refugees to reach Italy: journeys that are characterised more by the prospect of death than the hope of arrival. Last week 39 bodies of migrants were recovered by a rescue mission and landed at Trapani and Vibo Valentia. This is a daily massacre that people consume in indifference.

Europe and Italy throw brief glances at these tragedies, laying the foundations for future deaths while discussing ever-higher walls and increasing border controls. Today it is still the case Europe, supposedly the continent of human rights and civil freedoms, forces whoever has no choice to risk their lives in the search for a better future, feeding the traffickers who our governments so hypocritically say they want to defeat. There are very few people whose political and economic interests are still bound to any respect for human rights, and the bulletin-obituaries reported by the daily papers never connect the fatalities with the migration policies which have caused them, and with the consequence lack of potential legal routes for refugees.

In the end, migrants continue to die. Whoever survives the desert, the kidnappings, the torture and imprisonments they meet pushing off from the coast, often meet with death at sea instead. Yesterday morning the body of a young Sudanese man arrived at the Port of Pozzallo, who died during the long journey he began with a hundred others more than a week ago. Their journey began from the Egyptian coast and took around 11 days, spent among a thousand obstacles and difficulties, visible from the critical physical and psychological conditions of the majority of the migrants who arrived. Many of them come from Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Somalia, and others from Palestine, Gambia and the Comoros Islands.

Many are extremely young, 16 of them registered as unaccompanied minors. They were reached by the rescue mission after days of starvation spent at the mercy of the sea, who said that they had suffered from hunger and thirst on board the Maltese patrol boat which recovered them. They arrived at the quay visibly strained but nonetheless it was impossible to remove them from the pressing business of photo-identification, checks and investigations. Others fell ill while waiting under the beating sun for the arrival of the bus which would take them to the Hotspot, where there were already 40 migrants, and in which they waited longer still before having something to eat.

This is not the first time that a serious delay in the distribution of food has been recorded, even in relation to children, during a critical moment such as the first journey to the Hotspot, where migrants' precarious conditions should earn, instead, an attentive and full response. But instead the services have been diminished, delays in the payment and management of the Hotspot continue, and while the mayor of Pozzallo complains of the latest abandonment by institutions and closes the doors to politicians, the province of Ragusa retains high numbers and is evening opening new Emergency Reception Centres* ready to host 50 people.

For those migrants forced to give themselves up into the hands of those who would exploit them, into the traps of ramshackle journeys at sea, to journalists on the lookout for sensational stories and to officials set on interrogating them, this is an endless Odyssey. The only mark left by this landing in the newspapers will most probably be the photographs of the presumed people smugglers who the police rush to incriminate, adding to the growing number of arrests emanating from the province of Ragusa. The arrested are interrogated in close together in small groups, in high-pressure situations, without any accurate translation, and often with their details taken incorrectly. All of this we know through descriptions from migrants themselves, a situation in which those who have escaped death at sea are then quickly compromised at the moment of the landing, a moment in which safeguards and protection seems to entirely disappear.

The spotlights shine all around, casting shadows over the long and difficult process for new arrivals to regain their own bodies and independence. Perhaps one day they will be able to remind us that there was another possible version of that which is currently underway, and the necessity to change this corrupt, violent and deathly system that is being enacted within their very lives.
Lucia Borghi
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

* Emergency Reception Centre = Centro di Accoglienza Straordinario (CAS)

Translation: Richard Braude