Hard to Accommodate: Lampedusa

There are
850 migrants stuck in the Hotspot of Contrada Imbriacola, inside a
(partly uninhabitable) structure which could take around 250, at most
300 people. On Lampedusa, away from eyes and hearts, anything can
happen, including locking up women and children with acute problems
inside a Hotspot for months at a time, without any appropriate
divisions by age and gender, in violation of every law on the
protection of the vulnerable, illegal detention in an off-limits
centre where civil society and NGOs are blocked from entering into
contact with those inside.

legitimate appeal to have daily information on the situation of those
in the Hotspot, made to political and institutional actors by civil
society organisations on the island – those who are engaged on the
front line to provide dignity to those detained for months – has
never been heard. Over the Summer period, the whole media kept quiet
about the constant arrivals at Lampedusa, probably to put a break on
the tour operators’ unease who, despite 2016 having been sold out for
months, they continue to complain about the lack of earnings due to
the island’s supposedly damaged image.

They keep
quiet about the fact that pregnant women and new born children, or
people with serious health problems continue to arrive on the island,
the latter taken immediately to the island’s clinic, and then flown
by helicopter to the hospitals in Palermo. In the past few days, a
young woman died on the island from a heart attack caused by the
serious burns on her body following her journey across the Canal of
Sicily. She is simply the latest victim in a system of assassination
which spares no one, to whom no one will provide a name for the
tombstone in Lampedusa’s cemetery and who will not be inserted into
the count of those who died at sea.

Saturday October 29th,
at 8.30am, there was another landing in which 425 people arrived
accompanied by the Coast Guard’s 300 Class motorboat. Recovered
during the evening of the 28th,
they travelled at sea through strong wind and rain. At the port of
Favaloro they were expected, among others, by volunteers from the
Lampedusa Solidarity Forum (Forum
Lampedusa Solidale
who provided them with water, fruit juice, snacks and hypothermic
blankets. Among those rescued there were around forty young women,
some of them with children, originally from Nigeria. The rest of the
refugees were from Congo and Senegal, a few from Guinea, Togo and
Bangladesh, and one man from Syria. They seemed in not too bad a
condition, although obviously hard tested by the journey.

a long wait at the quay, they were transferred to the Hotspot, where
the numbers and conditions continue to make for a inhumane situation.
Since their arrival there are now 850 people housed there, without
any appropriate divisions based on gender and age. Some of the men
are forced to sleep on foam mattresses in the centre’s courtyard.

Special treatment is reserved for the North Africans who, picked out
by sight during their stay at the Hotspot, are identified and sent
back to their countries. Last week alone at least 15 Tunisians were
deported, the same people who had created problems in the centre
through protests and complaints. They were put on an airplane with
their wrists bound with cable ties, to be sent back to Tunisia like
criminals, after having stopped over in Palermo. And following close
behind them, an army of policemen to stop any attempt of escape, and
ensuring that the “packages” reached their destination.

The other North Africans (26 Moroccans and 3 Algerians) were rejected
by the Agrigento police station after having arrived at Porto
Empedocle on the ferry.

all, by the next day the latestmassacre
took place off the Libyan coast, and 29 survivors arrived at
Lampedusa from the shipwreck. It seems that two vessels left near
Tripoli, holding around 300 people, which means that 239
disappeared/died. Twelve dead bodies were recovered. Among the
survivors, the majority are from Guinea, one of whom was badly burnt
and urgently transferred to the medical clinic. Many of the others
were too tired to stay on their feet,
and all were clearly upset and traumatised. As someone present said,
once again at Lampedusa one counts the dead and attempts to console
the living.

Alberto Biondo

Borderline Sicilia

“OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline
Sicilia Onlus

by Richard Braude