Donnerstag, 20. Oktober 2016

The Great Frontier Within Our Cities

There is a border we have built which is larger than any of the walls being raised up throughout the whole world, a frontier which is born from within ourselves and the culture from which we are all nourished even as children, a frontier which is created by our egoism and comfort, a frontier which kills people even before the sea does. It is a frontier which behaves as if exploitation, death and discrimination were simply daily “sport”. It is a frontier which divides rich and poor within our cities and neighbourhoods. It is a frontier which we raise up so that we can live well, so as not to raise our glances over the wall which we have built for ourselves.

[Image: The Cemetery at Agrigento. Photo: Alberto Biondo]

This is the only way one can explain how a young Eritrean woman of 17 years, in search of her future, can die after being hit by a truck in a tunnel, and the homeless people left to die on the street to the total indifference of a city such as Palermo, which believes itself to be welcoming and immune to racism and discrimination.

These are only the latest deathly episodes from the frontier. And the statistics on lives drowned in the Canal of Sicily are again no matter of opinion: for every 42 people who arrive, one dies; on average, 11 children die every day. Every hour which passes comprises a crime of indifference, of complicity in this massacre, in violation of international law and with total disrespect for human rights. People become numbers in our cemeteries, people who die in absolute anonymity, to the indifference of a society which has even become used to seeing tombs with neither names nor faces. They are nobody's dead, they are the dead we do not want to acknowledge.

[Image: Migrants' tombs in the cemetery at Favara. Photo: Alberto Biondo]

This is the explanation for the creation of a European border police, an increase in funding for Frontex, and further bilateral agreements with blood soaked dictators in the pay of our multinationals. Or how at the port of Lampedusa, despite the constant flow of new arrivals, there are no portaloos and the migrants waiting for the transfer coaches have to relieve themselves behind the rocks. Or how 54 minors, already exhausted by the struggle they had waged and won against the deathly sea, were forced to spend the night on the bare ground in the courtyard of Palermo's immigration office.

This is the only way one can decide to save a few million Euros by organising interminable landing operations lasting 36 or 42 hours throughout Sicilian ports or rejecting minors' asylum requests based only on the fact that they recently turned 18.

A frontier is a physical wall which blocks a passage, but it is also a juridical wall which makes people live invisibly and removes their dignity. We must break down these frontiers, so as to restore freedom to so many men and women across the world who, in their search for protection, risk death at sea or in our cities.

Alberto Biondo
Borderline Sicilia

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

Translation: Richard Braude