Covid-19 and a reception system at risk of financial exploitation

In these uncertain times, we are seeing that politicians continuously fail in making choices that are in the best interests of everyone, thus leaving more and more room for the mafias, who know how to increase their profits in this emergency and how to fill the gaps left by the institutions.

There are increasing numbers of people who have nothing, and we are seeing them queueing for the first time at Caritas. The economic and social crisis will claim more victims than Covid-19, but the biggest concern seems to be the restart of the football championships.

What is making the difference right now are the people who are going out and helping those in need, regardless of the colour of their skin, their religion or their nationality, and who, thanks to their simple and unseen actions, give us hope.

Like Nizar, a cook with a very rough past, who donated more than 7 kilos of couscous to the forgotten labourers of Campobello di Mazara, which was distributed thanks to the contribution of the association Archè of Marsala.

foto 1Nizar - Photo by Archè Onlus Association

Like Kone and Ismaila, two boys who met three years ago in Libya, where they suffered the most atrocious tortures and saw many people die in the streets, who have made themselves available to go shopping for the elderly in a district of Agrigento.

Like Giulia, Salvatore and Veronica who do not sleep at night so that they can be as close as possible to the most unfortunate and forgotten people of Palermo.

Regarding the political incapacity of this moment and the issue of migrants, not only have no steps been made towards a regularization worthy of the name, but rescue at sea continues to be denied and people who manage to arrive through the sea are locked in floating hotspots. After Palermo, the Sicilian region is also reaching out to the mayor of Lampedusa, embracing the idea of setting up an extra ship to quarantine people arriving on the island.

Inside the hotspots on the mainland, in Lampedusa, Messina and Pozzallo, there are many migrants who are in quarantine. In Lampedusa, on the basis of an order of the mayor, if new people are taken into the centre, those who have already been inside for days are forced to quarantine all over again.

The Sicilian prefectures, with the input of the Ministry of the Interior, open emergency centres in direct custody, thereby doing reception ‘entrepreneurs’ a favour, who, in the words of an extraordinary reception centre (*CAS) manager, "are those who skip the line at the post office and do not respect the rules".

In the detention centre (*CPR) of Milo – closed for more than two months for reconstruction – eight migrants have been locked up during the crisis, with the Red Cross holding temporary custody over them.

After Agrigento, which has already opened two emergency structures entrusted to the Acuarinto cooperative and the Cometa association (which are no longer collaborating), Palermo asked the current managing bodies to open new structures or increase the number of places, and Enna published a call for expressions of interest to manage CAS from 51 to 150 places for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

Trapani, on the other hand, published three calls for expressions of interest, one – with a base of 28 euros – to look for hotels to host migrants during the health emergency, one for some new CAS – with a base of 42 euros – and a third for social workers, which provides 18 euros per day per person assisted. The allocation is by direct negotiation.

Catania has also published a public call for expressions of interest for the hospitality service of quarantined migrants for a total of fifty places.

Among ships, hotels, and new CAS with higher specifications and direct assignments, the risk of a new surge in profiteering is high. Many are at the door biding their time like vultures, and after the destruction of the reception system by the unchanged security decrees, there is no prospect of improvement on the horizon.

Those who guide us have not understood that changing course is the only way out, and the route to follow is the one traced by people like Nizar, Kone, Ismaila, Giulia, Salvatore and Veronica.


Alberto Biondo
Borderline Sicilia


*CAS: Centro di accoglienza straordinaria – Extraordinary reception center
*CPR: Centro di permanenza per il rimpatrio – Detention and repatriation center


Translated by Francesca Cavallo

Print   Email