Augusta: naked in the port

– Naked men bent under water pipes in order to wash themselves. This
picture is spreading all over the web. These are men in the commercial
port of Augusta, Sicily. Men – and women – freshly landed on Italian
shores after an exhausting and dangerous cruise, first through the
desert and then the Maghreb.
Rosa Tomarchio recounts the situation in an article published by, where the picture is shown.
The journalist reports cases of “men and women of all ages, completely
naked. There is no separation of rooms according to gender, where one
may seek to cover one’s nudity. They are not able to stand up, only
crouch under the water stream. This is what the government concedes.
Between water pipes – which are raised a mere one meter above the ground
level – nothing separates the male-assigned area from the female one.
They are all naked together in the same courtyard, the latter at a few
meters’ distance from the former.”
The style used by the journalist
is problematic, and may be criticised over the adoption of particular
terms and tones. Yet the image, the situation, if truthfull, render one
speechless. “A terrible, shocking slice of life”, comments the
journalist. At least, so it should be: this image has a recent
precedent, albeit not an identical one. How could we not recall that
image of naked migrants sprayed with anti-scabies disinfectant, in
Lampedusa’s “reception” centre (we spoke about it here)? It was defined a
shame, a scandal. Yet, apparently, there is always something worse. Far
from the media and institutions, Sicilian centres are on the verge of
collapse. In such situations, humanity, respect, dignity are too often
pushed into the background. The associations working the field have for
a long time been speaking of a situation completely out of control,
with continuous violations (here is Carmen Cordaro’s experience – a
lawyer from Messina’s Arci circle Thomas Sankara – as well the latest
information on the centres offered by Borderline Sicilia).
Lampedusa’s centre has been reopened, the very centre involved in the
“anti-scabies sprays” scandal: last Friday saw the landing of 1400
people, mainly from Eritrea, Somalia, and Syria. The centre is currently
closed for renovation, but has been reopened for emergency, and the
co-op Lampedusa Accoglienza is still handling it, the same organization
that had used the anti-scabies “sprays”.
We have tried to contact
activists from Augusta in order to understand what has happened, yet
fruitlessly. We are trying again in the next few hours.

Translation: Angela Paradiso