Exploitation and neglect in the Trapani region

If you want a good idea of how the government
manages immigration, just take a trip to the province of Trapani. As we have often said and reported, Trapani is
the experimental laboratory in which the government tests out firsthand its
policies towards migrants (since the Serraino Vulpitta).
As well as the Milo CIE and the Salinagrande
CARA, migrants also dwell in gyms, tented cities, and in abandoned buildings in
the countryside, where hundreds are left vulnerable to exploitation. Migrants runaway from the Milo CIE on almost a
daily basis, and riots and protests are commonplace due to the complete lack of
assistance available since the Prefecture pulled the plug on the consortium
Oasis’ management contract.

At the Salinagrande CARA the situation balances
precariously between inmates, law enforcement, and operators who find
themselves in increasingly difficult working conditions, as the Prefecture
continues to fill a centre which should accommodate only 260 migrants (when in
fact it contains more than 400).

On top of this, the municipal transport
company of Trapani has decided to cease running the only bus route which passes
the centre, because “the migrants don’t pay for the ticket”. The
Prefecture won’t commit itself to providing the service.

In such a stressful and constrained
environment, migrants easily lose their temper for trivial reasons and quarrels
amongst inmates in the CARA have multiplied significantly in recent months.

This situation is the result of neglect and
the inability to make a thought-out migration plan, and so as in 2011, we have

And, as we know, when we have an emergency the
government can act more freely, approving operation ‘Mare Nostrum’ and a new
reception plan.

What would you expect? Do you remember 2011?

The plan envisages the filling (to exhaustion)
of all the existing centres, and the creation of a number of new centres, which
will all also be packed full. And the Prefecture of Trapani, as did the Civil
Protection in 2011, has put out a call for new reception centres, €30 for each

A state of affairs, which as before, has seen
many throw themselves forward in the hope of making a bit of money. So many
hotels convert themselves into shelters, and abandoned buildings get rented by
various consortia in order to make centres for migrants.

Whoever lands on the shores of Sicily will be
sorted and put into a CARA, a CIE, a gym, or one of these new centres.

And those who do not arrive in Italy via
Lampedusa? Another problem, because those who arrive in Italy by
“land”, who present themselves directly to the police headquarters
asking for asylum (because they do not have the possibility to continue their
journey, for any number of reasons), are forced to live in abandoned buildings
close to the centres, or in tent cities in the Sicilian countryside, since the
centres themselves are overflowing.

After Alcamo and Marsala (if we focus on the
province of Trapani), tent cities flourish in Campobello di Mazara (as we have
seen for the last 5 years), where the olive harvest is about to finish, and
where more than 600 migrants have moved in hope of making some money, in the
hope of having a chance, in the hope of realising a dream. But how much does it

A great deal. As last month a Senegalese man
lost his life to burn injuries after the explosion of a camp stove.

With the end of the harvest, in these
following days many will leave and will move to Catania for the orange harvest,
which will create a new tent city, where exploitation will continue, where the
bosses will continue to humiliate the unfortunate, where landowners will take
advantage of the blindness of our politicians and the neglect of institutions.

But for many of us, it suits us not to see or
hear the screams of pain, so we can continue to pay less at the supermarket for
“our local” oil, or, our Sicilian oranges, the grapes of Marsala and
Alcamo, the potatoes of Cassibile, or the tomatoes of Pachino. Perhaps the
institutions do not intervene because maintaining this economy, now in complete
disarray, is dependent on this migrant labour force?

Posterity will judge, but for some of us it is
important to understand where these cheap products come from, so we can begin
to make some ethical choices, making our consumer choices critical and

Borderline Sicilia Onlus/Alberto Biondo

Translation by Sally Jane Hole