Hard to Accommodate: Trapani

Three landings in one week are too many even for Trapani, where there
is no prospective for anyone who arrives, only unsurpassable walls.
More than a thousand people in three landings put the Hotspot’s
mechanisms to the test, a centre which usually works better than the

More than 16,000 people have been transferred through the Milo
hotspot since it opened, and the number of rejections is lower than
in other Sicilian Hotspots; but when the situation is as difficult as
the last landing, everything unravels in absence of real planning.
The Trapani Hotspot now has no appropriate divisions between people
based on age or gender, and there are now cases of rejecting Moroccan
citizens and deporting Tunisians and Egyptians. At Milo, as in all
the other Sicilian Hotspots, there are illegal practices, migrants’
rights are violated, and even those with serious medical problems
have been rejected.

landing of October 27th
was long, partly because the two bodies which were transferred during
the operation were losing blood while at the dock, making it
necessary to wait for the footbridge and section of the port to be
freed up before the survivors could make their way through. Their
bodies showed signs of clear violence, their gazes were either scared
or fixed into the middle distance, communicating a powerlessness
which one can only resolve through policies designed with people and
not the economy in mind. Around 4,000 people have been killed in the
Mediterranean, and there are thousands others who die in our

In their usual way, the Frontex officers put pressure on the migrants
to get information “useful for blocking the flows”, as they say,
that is to kill more people. The fact that the number of the dead is
increasing means that Frontex is doing its job well and that the
agreements with Libya and Turkey are providing the promised fruit.
Many people were disembarked without clothes, some wearing only pants
and vest, others without even a top on, with a hypothermic blanket
tied round their waist. Given that the Trapani Prefecture decided
that the distribution of the basic kits (which also include clothes)
would happen within the Hotspot, the migrants who landed were given
food and slippers but remained half-naked at the port for 4 or 5
hours before being taken to Milo.

Speaking with some of the new arrivals, it is clear that the
situation in Libya is always worsening. The accounts are so raw that
they are often difficult to listen to. “I think that these people
arrive with a burden of pain which is difficult for us to understand,
and it’s a very alien kind of pain, quite different from our own, one
which we don’t know how to acknowledge, even while we have a large
responsibility in its end. It’s as if, while this all happens in
front of our very eyes, by which I mean we’re standing in front of
people who have gone through this deep suffering, we can only grasp
an inkling of it, because to try and understand it better (for those
who want to try), means also risking being hurt oneself in the
process, and the society in which we live doesn’t provide us with
tools to deal with pain, it tells us to just rid ourselves of it, to
turn away from that which isn’t agreeable for us, and it doesn’t
matter if that convenience doesn’t work for other people. And then,
I’m just exhausted of seeing victims! It’s as if there’s a silent
acceptance, on our part, that for every attempt at arrival – on the
journey, at the landing – there will be a certain percentage of
human sacrifice. By now people don’t even count the numbers. We go on
saying that these are people, not numbers – but I think that for
some they are not even numbers of human beings anymore.”

This is the outburst provided by so many of the volunteers at the
port. The difficulty of making the welcoming of migrants into a duty
and not a task has had the consequence that in the last round of
landings Sicilian police stations have rejected more than 200 people,
most of them Moroccans and Egyptians but also some Algerians and a
Tunisian for whom there were not any spaces left on the airplanes
used for deportations.

system like this which had difficulties in receiving simply creates
invisible people, like those who are currently being exploited at
Campobello di Mazara.
1400 people are amassed in a shanty town, employed in the olive
harvest for the oil which makes our profits. A system which creates
people with a rejection letter in their hand
or a denial to their claim for asylum makes them available for the
landowners, who impose a kind of slavery on them, the slavery of our
own times.

Italian reception system does not work because there is no will to
make it work. And the horrendous management continues to generate
protest from those lodged within it. The most recent episode comes
from one of the Extraordinary Reception Centres (CAS*) in Salemi,
Villa Mokarta, as many of the refused asylum seekers have not
received any response from the Italian justice system, and after 2
years of waiting have found themselves on the street without being
provided with any further process of social involvement. They too are
the invisible people in a system which malfunctions, which pushes
even those with a good heart to the edge, those who want to make
something of their lives, but who instead find even the little rights
they have refused, just as, for example, in the “Sataru” CAS* in
Castellammare del Golfo, where the managing body passed round a note
to the residents saying that they will no longer provide pocket money
nor shampoo until they receive the funds from the Prefecture. As so
many migrants who are suffering the hardships of the Sicilian
reception system confirm, in this centre there isn’t even mediation
or psychological assistance any more.

Alberto Biondo

Borderline Sicilia

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

= Centro di Accoglienza Straordinario (Extraordinary Reception

by Richard Braude