Donnerstag, 6. Oktober 2016

Landings and Photo Identification: “Procedures are Overriding Humanitarian Necessity”

The landings are taking longer and longer, increasing the migrants' exhaustion and stress, and removing time which could be used for other rescue operations. Doctors Without Borders noted a problem in the system, calling for much faster landings.

PALERMO. – The landings are taking longer and longer, increasing the migrants' exhaustion and stress. This is the result of the photo-identification procedures undertaken in many Italian ports. Given that the Hotspots are already full, migrants are taken in groups to the local police station, doubling and even tripling their time spent waiting on board. The complain has been raised by Doctors Without Borders. Yesterday 1,020 migrants arrived at 7am on board the organisation's Bourbon Argos. The migrants are all from Subsaharan Africa, and mostly adult men (161 women and 15 minors). Around 200 spent the night onboard, having slept in the open air with only a gazebo for shelter, and will have been identified this morning.

As a humanitarian organisation”, Giorgia Girometti from Doctors Without Borders stated – “we note our grave concern that recently in Palermo, as well as other Sicilian cities, the photo-identification procedures have overridden humanitarian necessities. Because the Hotspots are full, this drawn-out procedure is being undertaken by the police station with small groups of 50 migrants at a time. This has a significant effect on the landing. In the case of Palermo, a landing of 1,000 migrants now takes a day and a half. This is not the Prefecture's fault, but no doubt that of the system itself, one we cannot agree with, above all because it tires out and puts stress on migrants who have already been seriously tested during the sea crossing.”

In the case of an overloaded ship – the ordinary capacity of which is 600 people, and is carrying 1,000 – the intervention at the port should be much quicker, for the migrants' well-being. There are people on board our ship who have received first aid” Girometti continued, “but remain in a fragile physical and psychological situation. This is why we argue that the landings should be much quicker. We're talking about people who cannot even see at the moment they touch ground, because they are so exhausted. In addition to this, after hours of waiting they have to try and stay calm and relaxed. After hours in the ship they have a right to reception and assistance, a right which should not be blocked by the photo-identification system. Another worrying aspect is that, for us, staying at the port for 48 hours means that we need at least another 12 hours to sort out the ship. All of this removes time from other possible rescue operations we could be making in the Mediterranean. We therefore want to distance ourselves from an organisation model which we find unacceptable due to the serious practical consequences it brings with it.”

Project "OpenEurope" - Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus  

Translation: Richard Braude