Asylum Seeker’s latest protest momentarily suspended at the Mineo Cara (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers)

morning’s manifestation which saw several hundred asylum seekers take part, has
recently drawn to a close. The action started when the asylum seekers, the
majority of whom were from Eritrea,
left the Mineo Cara (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers) this morning and
blocked the roundabout on the Catania-Gela road for several hours. The migrants
then headed towards Catania
and, for hours, blocked the slip roads for Palagonia and Ramacca. They were
protesting against several factors: the recognition of the right to asylum,
which they have seen disappear from many cases similar to their own; the
slowness of the bureaucracy which keeps them waiting for months on end; and,
the overcrowding of the Centre. Many asylum seekers are having to wait over ten
months before receiving their permit of stay. The delays are mainly caused by
the numerous, often fabricated application rejections which entail biblical
waits: firstly, to actually arrive and secondly, to carry out the consequent

It took
just two days after the interethnic meeting which took place on the 18th
December to mark the Global Day of Action against Racism (an event which
unfortunately remained untouched by the media) and four days since the initial
protest which was largely carried out by Ethiopians of Oromo ethnicity, for the
migrants to once again take action to speak out against the inhumane living
conditions in which they are forced to live and to express their right to be
active subjects.

indifference which has been shown towards the situation in the Mineo Cara has
reached unprecedented levels. The migrants which are “hosted” in the
Centre are merely the objects of a big business which is being generated around
them. They are placed indefinitely in a structure which is more than 10kms from
the nearest inhabited centre and become easy prey for those looking for cheap
labour to work the surrounding land for the grand sum of €15-€20 a day. Then
when the migrants, who by right should receive a work permit after 35 days
which enables them to work (and look for work) for a period of 6 months,
protest, the tragedies they are living merely become problems for the forces of
order to deal with by means of repression. Furthermore, there are other people
who not only remain supportive of the work carried out by the police but
actually call for the further militarisation of our land. The Mineo Cara is
currently at over 40% of its maximum capacity (2700 residents for 1800 places).
The residents are of mixed nationality (some of which are in conflict) and
religion. It would therefore be of no great surprise were the situation to
become unmanageable. But the former minister Maroni
needed to take action with his version of this pseudo- reception after the
shameful events which took place on Lampedusa last year. The current government
continues to follow the path laid down by its predecessors, immune to the
enormous squandering of public resources (the premises alone are €6 million per
year which goes directly into the pocket of Pizzarotti Spa di Parma).

We speak
out against the Mineo Cara, a place of profound suffering (8 protests which
have taken place outside the Centre and numerous attempted suicides have been
reported from within), which has stolen over a year in the life or thousands of
migrants who should have been able to make direct use of a permit of stay on
humanitarian grounds (in cases where their requests for asylum has been
rejected). This is especially true for those who arrived as a result of the war
in Lybia (it is worth noting here that 85% of military operations came from the
Birgi (Trapani) and Sigonella bases), as
happened in previous years for those fleeing the warzones of Afghanistan and Iraq.

With half
of the public money which has been squandered it would have been possible to
offer reception to the same number of people in small and medium sized towns
through the development of SPRAR (Protection Service for Asylum Seekers and
Refugees) projects. The aim of which is to favour the progressive social insertion
of the migrants and optimise their possibility of finding work, thereby
injecting much needed resources back into the damaged local economy.

In the
upcoming weeks, we will continue to call for the closure of the Mineo Cara and,
as an alternative, we propose the increase and development of SPRAR projects in
the surrounding towns and villages. In doing so, we invite associations and
local businesses and, above all, the migrants themselves to work together to
help build a sustainable future for all involved.

Catania Anti-
Racist Network