Complaints from inside Pian del Lago: Conditions at reception center worsen

Published below are a letter and photographs from a group of operators at Pian del Lago (CL) center denouncing the shameful conditions inside the facility. Within just days of the President of the Sicilian Region issuing an ordinance banning all migrant entry and stays on the island – delegitimized by the Interior Ministry itself and aimed solely and stoking the flames of racist propaganda – it is more important than ever to return the discourse to the actual facts and the subject of these concerns.

The problem is not the arrival of migrants in Sicily, but the bankruptcy and corrupt management of the reception centers. The inadequate healthcare conditions and lack of basic hygienic provisions become an even graver problem in the midst of a pandemic, and it is for this reason – and for the respect of human rights in general – that the institutions in place should be concerned.

These are the photos from the reception center at Pian del Lago in Caltanissetta. We are a group of mediators seeking assistance. No one wants to let out the truth about the conditions in which the migrants live and no one publishes anything for fear of the prefecture. As you can see, there are containers crowded with 12 or more dilapidated, broken beds full of cockroaches.

They arrive consigned to broken and filthy mattresses, worn-out pillows, every shower broken and bathroom dirty because the cleaning company will not enter the container and clean for us. The only exception is during the visits for inspection when they double the staff, bring in many operators, and require us to view only the two clean containers, otherwise, they won’t give us the residency permit. Everything is arranged by the director and Mr. Angelo Gallo, who are responsible along with the help of our representatives. If we speak out, they make life difficult. In return, Mr. Gallo and the director provide their associates with telephone cards and cigarettes.

On several occasions, we have found insects in the bread and rotten food. We bring these issues to the director who promises to provide changes, but this never turns out to be true. Inside, knives, hashish, weed, and food are traded as though at grocery stalls. If a fight breaks out, the wounded run away.

Social distancing is nonexistent, workers went without masks until the last few days, and all are crowded into the canteen.

The center is reduced to crap and the prefect is well aware of everything. The few times he came he never once entered. Everyone knows, but no one does anything. This is the real mafia. We sent a letter alerting the prefect of this horror, but everything has been kept hidden.

We have requested help from social services and other organizations but have been told “if you tell, it will be closed” – with this cooperative there is no messing around: they are Mafiosi, and everyone knows each other.

Please help us and publish this in full. Thank you.

Translation by Olivia Taibi