Messina: The Tent-City at PalaNebiolo Finally Taken Down. For Three And A Half Years It Housed Asylum Seekers In Shameful Conditions


Three and a half years since its transformation into a centre of bad reception for asylum seekers fleeing from war, famine and ecological crimes, the PalaNebiolo stadium at Conca d’Oro dell’Annunziata, property of the University of Messina, will perhaps finally return to being a baseball pitch for training the local teams.

The work of dismantling the huge tent-city was finally concluded yesterday, structures which housed thousands of African, Asian and Middle Eastern migrants in inhumane conditions, many of them unaccompanied minors and young women, victims of violence and human trafficking.

The complex was declared inappropriate by the Prefecture of Messina itself already in Autumn 2016, but only on December 30th of last year was it closed, and the “guests” transferred to other centres of initial reception in Italy, or to the ‘twin’ centre set up at the former “Gasparro” barracks at Bisconte, again in Messina. This chapter of the PalaNebiolo has now been closed, and the future now remains for the camp at Bisconte, where three vast rooms are housing 200 foreign citizens (until a few days ago there were mainly unaccompanied foreign minors, half-closed in without any appropriate separation from adults).

The Italian government and the EU’s border agency, Frontex, are planning for the former barracks at Bisconte to become a Hub/Hotspot for the initial reception operations of identifying and expelling/deporting migrants, thanks to the establishment of another huge tent-city, and the erection of other containers for services, with the capacity to host up to 1,000 people at a time. A pointless project against which, up till today, only a few media workers have raised their voices, as well as a few associations for the defence of human rights, while the local administration, social, political and trade union forces have maintained a scandalous and complicit silence.

Antonio Mazzeo
Stampa Libera

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

Translation by Richard Braude