The Migrant Business: More Than €143,000 Per Day, Managed By An Archipelago Of Cooperatives – The former Regional Aide for Families, managed of the Ippocrate in Enna: “We’re only left with €3 per resident.”

In front of the gates to the former hotel ‘Canguro’, the locals of Castell’Umberto point their fingers above all at them: the cooperatives. “They make money and we take the migrants” is the phrase passing through the crowd.

Migrants hosted at the hotel ‘Sinatra’ (Lapresse)

The reception business in Sicily is growing. There is now a vast range of cooperatives, and politicians mixed up with people who have been working in the sector for years. A business which comprises more than €143,000 every day, if you multiply the €30 which the state gives every day for each resident in an extraordinary reception centre, by the 4,791 migrants on the island, according to the latest data from the Ministry of the Interior.

In a town in the Nebrodi mountains, the locals have been protesting since Friday evening in front of a former hotel which is hosting 50 asylum seekers. The extraordinary reception centre, along with Terre di Mazzarino, is managed by two of the biggest businesses in the sector in Sicily: Azione Sociale, based in Caccamo and Ippocrate, based in Enna and run by the former Regional Aide for Families, Paolo Colianni, member of the Movimento Per Le Autonomie*. “Whats happening in Castell’Umberto is completely bizzare. There’s a mayor protesting in an area which isn’t even his”, the former politician lashes out, who also manages a centre in Cagliari and whose cooperative has 50 employees. “On average you can win a contract by making a lower offer, at around €28.50. On this basis you deduct €8 for food, €9 for personnel, €2.50 for pocket money, bills and rent, and at the end we’re left with €3 for each resident.”

There are 105 extraordinary reception centres in Sicily, in order to deal with the migrant emergency, which join the SPRAR centres. The province with the most such centres is Trapani (25 centres), followed by Palermo (21) and Ragusa (20).

Giorgio Ruta

Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus

*A centre-right political party

Translated by Richard Braude