Unaccompanied foreign minors on quarantine ships: Sicilian associations demand the immediate evacuation

Article first published on October 16, 2020

Press release – issued by the Juvenile Prosecutors of Palermo and Catania. Sicilian associations demand the immediate evacuation of the unaccompanied foreign minors from quarantine ships.

Borderline Sicilia, Borderline-Europe, CISS (International Cooperation South-South), Rete Antirazzista Catanese, Forum Antirazzista of Palermo, Arci Porco Rosso of Palermo, and Osservatorio contro le discriminazioni razziali (Association against Racial Discrimination) “Noureddine Adnane” comment: “The story of Abou cannot repeat itself. All minors on board of quarantine ships need to be brought immediately off board and to safety.”

On October 13, 2020, Borderline Sicilia, Borderline-Europe, CISS, and Osservatorio contro le discriminazioni razziali “Noureddine Adnane” filed a complaint, demanding the juvenile prosecution of Palermo and Catania that all necessary measures are taken to ensure the safety and protection of all minors currently on quarantine ships on Sicilian territory.

The involved associations denounce that the institutions in charge only noticed the presence of numerous minors on the so-called quarantine ships on October 5 – only after the death of Abou Dakite, a fifteen-year-old boy who was rescued on September 10 in a SAR Operation by the ship Open Arms. The boy was transferred on board of the quarantine ship Allegra on September 18 bringing with him a medical report on his condition.

We demand justice for Abou and his family, full transparency on the situation of all minors on board of these ships, as well as on the rather discriminatory adoption of restrictions on board of the ships against foreign citizens only. What becomes clear from the journalistic sources and our investigation about the situation of minors on board is not only absurd and intolerable but also calls for the immediate attention of all competent authorities, as there are clear violations of the rules for the reception of minors. These violations concern the immediate appointment of a legal guardian and all regulations ensuring the wellbeing of all minors in the first place without any exceptions through orders or emergency laws.

At the moment the exact number of unaccompanied minors on board is not known, but until a few days ago, 181 minors were present on the two ships in the harbor of Palermo, not receiving protection from those whose duty it is to protect them. Among them was the young Abou.

The conditions that we see are overcrowded ships (on one of them are 850 people, 100 of them are unaccompanied minors), promiscuity, a lack of adequate health care, psychological and legal support as well as basic information regarding their location and condition in a language that they speak. This situation is unacceptable, especially for minors. It is a situation that also means a continuation and increase of the physically and psychologically traumatizing experiences of their migratory routes.

We want to know from the competent authorities whether they think a quarantine ship is an adequate place for the reception of minors and for preventing outbreaks of diseases, or, more generally, for a successful management of public health. We absolutely do not think so – neither for minors nor for adults.

We, therefore, reiterate our request for all those authorities that are responsible for the protection of minors throughout the Italian territory to reconsider – even if only temporary – whether quarantined ships are adequate spaces for the reception of minors. Additionally, we request that they immediately investigate the condition of these minors on board of the ships and to arrange for their evacuation. Moreover, we ask the department of justice to verify the restrictive measures against all people on board of these ships, to make sure that the human rights, which are inherent for all people living in Italy no matter their nationality and origin, should be granted and protected.


Palermo/Catania, 15.10.2020



Borderline Sicilia ONLUS

Circolo Arci “Porco Rosso” di Palermo

CISS/Cooperazione Internazionale Sud Sud

Forum Antirazzista di Palermo

Osservatorio contro le discriminazioni razziali “Noureddine Adnane”

Rete Antirazzista Catanese


Translated by Annika Schadewaldt