Fortunately 2015 ended

The numbers of
2015 are horrible, they recall homicides, daily deaths that did not seem to
end, fostered by policies that have not been corrected even when confronted
with racism and the deaths of children.

931 – 237 – 150 –
200 – 73 are only the numbers of the latest arrivals – of minors, of Moroccan
citizens, of migrants withhold at the new hotspot of Trapani and of those who
demonstrated for days in Agrigento.

Numbers and facts which reveal that the
year 2015 ended exactly as it started, in total confusion, with the
indifference of institutions and through the intervention of volunteers and
activists who allow this system to still remain into place instead of

On Monday 28
December, the Siem Pilot, just for sticking to the facts, docked in Palermo
with 931 migrants of various origins. At the port the usual good will and
availability of everybody was reenacted – the usual commitment, though, was not
sufficient this time in light of the higher then expected number of minors and
of people from the Maghreb. And the machinery collapsed.

237 minors were
at the port and later stayed at the police station until late at night. In
practice, their disembarkation lasted about 12 hours. This happened because the
new directives foresee that minors, before being transferred to suitable
facilities, have to transit through the police station immediately after
arriving for having their photo and fingerprints taken. Of course, the work for
the four police officers has been strenuous, considering that in addition to
the minors there were also 200 Moroccan citizens who have been registered in
the early morning hours a day after their arrival. They waited the whole day
and the first night in Italy in an emergency room at the port without any
possibility to get something to eat or to take breath. Just a cold pavement for
them who in the end “have no right to stay in Italy!”.

In this complete
confusion and strenuous working conditions for the officers of the prefecture
in need of satisfying the requests of a deaf and blind Europe, those who paid
are the weakest (the minors) and the unwanted (the Moroccans). There was no
free place for the minors in Palermo, as happened other times, and therefore
the prefecture and the town council asked the Caritas to take care of them in
facilities that are suitable for minors. The result? An emergency accommodation
for about 160 minors, who will have to be transferred as soon as possible by
the town council (we doubt that they will be able to do so shortly). In such a
context we expect that Save the Children
monitors the situation of these young migrants and has the courage to denounce
possible abuses or violations.

On the contrary,
after 24hours of non-reception, the citizens of countries of the Maghreb
received a notice of rejection, the “seven days”. After having been released by
the prefecture, the 150 persons reached the central station of Palermo during
the day of December 29, trying to depart for Rome. Without money or means of
subsistence they unnecessarily crowded the station, as the Railway Police
stopped them from getting onto a train without a valid ticket, thus forcing
them to camp at he station the whole day. 150 citizens from the Maghreb made
invisible by the law and treated worse then animals. The police carried out
European orders as commended by the minister Alfano; the prefecture was not
interested in social problems that derive from hundreds of people who are on
the streets without support; the town council, already occupied with the plight
of the minors, did not bother about the citizens from the Maghreb. As always in
such a situation those who solved the problem were the volunteers together with
members of the CONSULTA DELLE CULTURE, who managed without major difficulties
to involve the Consulates of Morocco and Tunisia in order to let them pay for
most of the train fares and buy something to eat – also with the support of the

If in Palermo the
year finished badly, the situation in Trapani is not much better, where the
functioning of the new hotspot opened a week ago is unclear especially to its
employers! Previously, Trapani hosted the 129 migrants who landed at the city
of salt and who have been transferred to facilities in the north, as well as
200 migrants from the disembarkation of Palermo. For these migrants the process
of identification is still ongoing, and until now no rejection for them but
rather a relocation to the north of Italy. We wonder why the hotspot of Trapani
does not reject as many persons as the one in Lampedusa, where the refoulments
have been more than 200 since November 2015.

A system of
complete confusion where those who pay for this are the migrants – like in
Agrigento, where more than 50 migrants who have been rejected started a protest
in front of the police station. They slept there for two days, loudly asking to
be recognized the possibility to request asylum. After two days 73 migrants
have been brought to the hub of Villa Sikania (in Siculiana) with the promise
to get access to the asylum request procedure. A change of trend or only a
temporarily answer for avoiding problems of social order?

As acknowledged
in a whisper also by the officials who work hard every day in the field (police
officers and officers of the prefecture), the system needs to be reformed. Secure
rules for all and attention for the single person. Meanwhile, in this confusion
and silence, on Lampedusa remain the Eritreans who demonstrated, probably in
the belief of the institutions about them giving up and let their fingerprints
being taken.

discrimination, failed reception, and denial of rights have filled our reports
and denunciations in 2015. Well, we hope that the wind changes, that the common
sense and the state of law return, that 2016 will be different for all those
men and women who look for life and freedom. This is our wish for 2016 – we,
who want to keep on hoping!

Alberto Biondo

Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Chiara