For more than a month, we have all been awaiting the change of management at the Centre. September 1 should have seen the management pass over to the consortium of social cooperatives, Sisifo (supporters of the Lega Coop) who were awarded the public contract in August. Nonetheless, the hand over has only begun to get underway in the last couple of days (up until now the daily food costs- for food of extremely poor quality- has created a budget of €17,000, approximately €10 per migrant).
The powerful new “left” consortium can count on invoicing many millions thanks to its new contract, made by the Regional government and local enterprises. The contract includes a vast range of social assistance projects for the disabled, minors, elderly and those with drug addictions. We sincerely hope that this change is not a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire!
Nonetheless, the centre’s serious problems, which we have been speaking out against for months, are ongoing and are getting worse:
—Guidelines state that the asylum seekers in Reception Centres are entitled to a €5 contribution every two days to spend on phone cards, internet access and cigarettes. In the Mineo megaCara, since it opened in March, no such funding had ever been distributed. On the other hand, the destitute conditions are worsening. We hope that the new management will be able to put an end to these problems as soon as possible and provide the migrants with a back payment of the money they should have received, as is their right. It would be shameful if after the happy squandering of public money (see the sum paid in rent to Pizzarotti Parma Spa for the premises), savings were to be made at the expense of the migrants themselves.
—Transport links to Mineo by bus (which has been run by Simili for many months) cost migrants €2 for a return ticket. But most did not have the funds for this and therefore walked (20km round trip). For several weeks only a 50 seat bus was available which led to long queues and the vast majority (at Mineo there are over 1800 asylum seekers) had to go on foot; two weeks ago, instead of increasing the number of buses, the only bus which ran was cancelled.
—The Commissions are slow to examine the asylum requests, the interpreter service is of an exceedingly poor standard and rejections are common; appointments are not based on the chronological order of the migrants’ arrival in the country and in the last few weeks hundreds of migrants have been transferred to Lombardy.
—While the new management begin their take over, a move which has received much publicity by the Centre’s chairman, the Honourable Castiglione, for its efficiency and transparency, an autumnal chill descends upon Mineo, for which no suitable clothing has yet been provided.
We have been speaking out against the heinous running of the Mineo megaCara, which, on many levels, perpetrates the inhumane politics of the government rather than preventing situations of emergency. For months the migrants have even been deprived of the small amount of money which is theirs by right. There are also those who attempt to profit from the farmers’ protests which create panic over security which then also infiltrates into the nearby local councils. The circle is completed by the indifference which the media shows to reporting on or monitoring the daily violations of human rights which the migrants are subjected to. No attempts are made by the media to communicate with the migrants or to contact the organisations which help support them. Since March, we have been organising various activities (legal advice, distribution of dictionaries and clothes, music, interethnic meetings and thanks to doctors from Lila, since March, we have also been able to offer medical assistance), but any attention from the media has, up until now, been all but inexistent.
As the Catania Anti- Racist Network, together with other organisations, we have always maintained that in the light of such a costly and clientelistic set up, a genuine Reception centre (one which has not been created through unlimited funding and newborn local associations subdivided along bipartisan lines) is diametrically opposed to a centre of segregation which is miles from any inhabited area. It is necessary to multiply the SPRAR (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) projects in towns in the surrounding area and throughout Sicily, which would allow a significant reduction in costs and favour the real social integration of the migrants, as has been happening for many years now in Riace and other towns in Locride. Nonetheless, the government prefers to favour acquiescent pseudo-humanitarian associations, whose business scams in the name of “reception” are becoming increasingly evident. In these months they have proven, at the migrants’ expense, their incapacity and impossibility to manage the megaCara. Tensions have been allowed to grow only to then be repressed through the militarisation of the Caltagirone area, all of which has led to the outrageous squandering of public resources while cuts are being made in social sectors (schools, health etc).
SATURDAY 22 October
from 17h in the square in front of the Mineo Cara
INTERETHNIC MEETING (a camper van will be present with doctors from LILA)