Migrants, little water and no breaks during the transfers. A policeman: “If there is any problem, we’ll take care of it”

From MeridioNews

“We can’t let anybody get off the bus, otherwise it will end up that everybody needs to go to the toilet”. This is the order of a police officer to the drivers of the 15 buses departing from the Port of Catania after one of the last landings in the Etnean Capital. “This is a recurrent practice” reports Giulia Capitani from Oxfam Italy.

Ph: MeridioNews

“Nobody should get off the buses, because these migrants are not photo-detected and they cannot escape”. This police order has been addressed to the drivers of the 15 buses departing last Friday from the Port of Catania, in charge of transporting the 745 migrants disembarked from the Spica Ship of the Italian Navy.

“Inspector, the problem is that these people need to go to the toilet and the last time they peed in plastic bottles”, claimed one of the drivers during a meeting with the Head of the Police station. The orders, though, were clear: no break in the service areas, except in case of emergency. “Nobody should take any initiative, if there is any problem, you should tell us and we take care of it, otherwise it’ll end up that everybody needs to go to the toilet”, was the answer of the inspector of the Flying Squad of Catania.

“The last time, they gave to the migrants only a sandwich and one bottle of water up to Milan”, tells one driver to MeridioNews. “It’s us who bought some milk and biscuits for the children, they give nothing to them”, reports one other driver, who especially complains about the lack of an adequate supply of water to meet the passenger’s requirements.
“From the evidence collected from our operators active on the territory, it unfortunately appears that this is a practice repeated at each landing, always when migrants are relocated to cities outside of Sicily.” To intervene in this case is Giulia Capitani, responsible of the immigration office of Oxfam Italy, one NGO which has been engaged for months in the monitoring activities of the reception practices in Sicily, within the project Open Europe. Apparently, bus breaks take place approximately every four hours – explains Capitani – a too long lapse of time which, considering people’s bodily needs, creates obvious hygiene problems.”

On board the Navy Vessel – moored at Quay n. 12 between a Turkish military ship and a cruise ship – all rescued migrants were of Sub-Saharian origins. Among them, there also were two wounded people and a deceased Nigerian women, who has left her 8-year-old daughter. At the Catania stopover, the police staff, assisted by Frontex agents, would have conducted the pre-identification, namely the names recording. After the conclusion of these operations at late evening, the migrants have been transferred to Cosenza and from there sorted and conducted to the reception centers in Bari, Bologna and other regions in Northern Italy.

An “entirely unclear” procedure, according to Capitani. “We are concerned about this new system, on the basis of which the identification is made in places other than where the landing takes place, contrary to the provisions of the Ministerial Directions”, states Capitani. “At this point, we ask ourselves where and by whom the fingerprint taking is made and with which guarantees for the asylum seekers – she concludes. We will further look into the matter in the next weeks, consulting the prefectures, because there is a total lack of transparency about it.”

Gianmarco Catalano

Translated by Elena Baggetta