Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo: Arrivals and Rejections

The results of the landings in the port of Palermo, Trapani and Porto Empedocle on July 7th:

1,038 Palermo

658 Trapani

246 Porto Empedocle

For the Italian state, these are only numbers and frequently it is only as numbers that the people themselves are treated.

Sicilian structures are collapsing through overcapacity, subjected to a workload shaped by an endless bureaucratic journey, continual transferrals, etc. But officials in the Sicilian prefectures are also pushed to extremes, complaining of a lack of personnel, forced as they are (partly due to racist and anachronistic laws) to confront a host of problems which the Ministry of the Interior simply seems unwilling to resolve.

First among these problems is that of the reception of unaccompanied minors. At the disembarking at Palermo last Thursday, the Council “raised the white flag”, reminding the Ministry of its responsibilities: over 1,000 unaccompanied minors are already present, and it is no longer possible to provide dignified hospitality. The centres for unaccompanied minors are collapsing (they have not received fund for too many months) and the minors are now being hosted in emergency structures while waiting for the Prefecture to find a solution (for example, last week 54 unaccompanied minors were taken to a makeshift structure in Monreale which the Red Cross has been charged with managing).

In any case, even if the unaccompanied minors were fortunate enough to have been taken to a normal first reception centre, they would then be forgotten for 4-6 months without anyone having begun the bureaucratic process, the naming of a legal guardian, the formal presentation of the request for asylum or the permit to stay for those underage. Thus whoever resists the desire/need to remove themselves from the centres, and does not run away, risks becoming an adult and being transferred (if seeking asylum) into a reception centre for adults and beginning all over again in a new bureaucratic queue, cancelling out months already spent in Italy as a minor.

But in today’s Sicily it can also happen that if one becomes an adult while in a centre for unaccompanied minors, you can be left on the streets, even if you are an asylum seeker or if you have nowhere to go (a home, work, contacts in this country). Why? “Because there’s no money”, the centres’ managers tell you.

In the end, with last week’s arrivals at Villa Sikania and the Milo Hotspot, one can record the complete exhaustion of the system, in which the reception of migrants is far too often simply improvised by the Ministry of the Interior, and in which areas are left without any checks or controls. In Trapani, the Prefecture transferred 100 migrants to the Villa Sant’Andrea centre in Valderice, where they have been various protests in the past due to overcrowding, while the Questura rejected 15 Moroccan citizens. The same fate befell another 5 Moroccans who arrived in Palermo on board the Siem Pilot.

In all of this the slogan remains: always and only a state of exception, never a humane and worthy reception!

Alberto Biondo

Borderline Sicily

Translation: Richard Braude