Newsletter Borderline Sicilia – April 2015


  • Amongst the thousands of new
    arrivals, the biggest shipwreck of migrants in the mediterranean
  • The drama of the Welcome Centres
  • A
    poorly run system results in the violation of rights
  • The
    fight continues for those who are not free to choose how to build a better
  • Donate your 5 per thousand to
    borderline sicilia onlus!!
  • Info and contact

the thousands of new arrivals, the biggest shipwreck of migrants in the

Thousands of migrants have arrived on the
coast of Sicily this month, after surviving the living hell in Libya and running
the ever higher risk of crossing the sea. Almost every arrival is burdened with
memories of those who did not survive. At the beginning of the month around one
hundred migrants arrived in Messina, rescued from the sea along with around a
thousand migrants, including one corpse. Those who arrived were temporarily
sent to the former barracks of Bisconti, which was reopened after months of

Others arrived in Porto Empedocle to be hastily
brought to the nearby Welcome Centres, which are already at full capacity.

News of more deaths arrived from a capsized
boat in the sea off Libya.

The number of victims is increasing, and
the migrants who are saved have stories of more and more fraught crossings,
including the story of a dead body thrown overboard only to be eaten by sharks.

Whilst the media begs for another state of
emergency for the hundredth time, in the middle of the month we saw more than a
thousand arrivals within two days. Some of the 585 new arrivals in Trapani were
even transferred to Cie di Milo.

Another 893 reached the ports of Augusta
and Pozzallo, and were transferred to neighbouring towns, among which the CARA*
in Mineo. Only a minor part was transferred outside of Sicily.

A few days later: news of the biggest migrant
shipwreck so far in the Mediterranean. We received information of 850 missing
in a terrifying reconstruction given by 28 survivors, together with those who
lost their lives; they had no other choice but to trust in the sea and hope to
be rescued. Facing this large number of tragedies, and after the hypocritical
condolences of the institutions, the European assembly is developing the
reinforcement of the Triton scheme as a solution. But there is still no mention
of opening legal channels of entry into Europe. A Europe that has more and more
responsibility in light of these avoidable massacres.

In the meantime, the arrival of refugees is
not stopping. Whilst the media are focused on the inquests of the last shipwreck,
several hundred landed in Augusta, Pozzallo and Catania, and were transferred
on heavily-armoured buses, and escorted through the city by the police in a sad

drama of the Welcome Centre

The numerable and foreseeable arrival of
exhausted migrants, justifiably find the admission system for migrants more and
more unprepared. With the sole excuse of the emergency, which unfortunately
still manages to influence public opinion, the migrants are transferred
directly to welcome centres, which are teetering at the limits of capacity. The
first consequence of this is a noticeable worsening of the living conditions of
the migrants and the protests of those who have been waiting for a long time to
be accepted, such as at the CARA* in Pian Del Lago.

Once again at Pian Del Lago, an elderly
migrant couple were left for more than a day outside the centre waiting for a place
in the centre, without any form of assistance. Tangible proof of the
intolerable management of these transfers.

The institutions congratulate themselves on
the task force services for the arrivals, whilst the situation after the
landings never make the news. There are transfers that do not take into account
or respect the necessary conditions for protection, such as in the case of the
two year old baby who was left at Lampedusa for 15 days, before having
appropriate accommodation.

Or in the case of the migrants who were sent
to centres, which were rundown and already known for their situation of total
abandonment. The “Welcome machinery” seems to concern itself all too
often with only the mere survival of the migrants, which therefore allows the manager
to guarantee the survival of the centre.

It is
clear that we have to continue taking into account these large numbers, when
the new arrivals are sent to the already over-stretched facilities. And in
these large numbers it is easy to disappear, to lose their own rights to help
and legal protection, and to be able to start living again where they have

there are also those people who combat empty promisses and instigators of “the
war between the poor” with concrete gestures. At the local market in a district
of Palermo called Ballarò, a group of vendors spontanously gave their goods to
some migrants who were passing in a bus, giving a real lecture in humanity and
solidarity for those who speak of welcoming without having any knowledge about

In conjuction with the arrival of the
survivors of the last shipwreck, a tent was set up at the port of Catania for
the union of antiracist citizens.
They work for a policy of welcoming and a management of the migration
phenomenon that is in accordance with the protection of human rights.

A poorly run system
results in the violation of rights

While the relentless emergencies continue to occur at sea, it has been
months, even years, that communities and reception centres are lacking basic necessities. In Giarre, two
communities for unaccompanied minors which, following numerous inspections by
Social Services, have been declared unsuitable to be included on the official
register for such centres, continue to receive payments from the Council of
Catania. When questioned about this, the local government justified the
situation by saying that the high number of arrivals has not allowed for a more
severe control of the centres to take place. This only serves to confirm the
complete disinterest in the quality of life of migrants within the centres.

Often the effects of poor management
impacts on centre employees. At the former IPAB* Regina Elena in Catania, workers are currently demanding 16 months
of pay owed to them. Employees of the Il
Sorriso e San Francesco
cooperative, operating in the Vizzini SPRAR* and
part of the Group, are
awaiting “only” four months’ salary despite the fact that the
allocated money has already been transferred to the organisation. It becomes
easy to predict the knock on effect this must have on the commitment of the
employees and, in turn, on living standards within the centres.

Among the many complications and
scams of the “reception” system is the great ‘flop’ of the new
territorial commissions: expensive institutes within which employees still
require training and which are not yet up and running. In the meantime, newly
arrived migrants must be squashed in with those in already over-crowded
centres. The combination of discontent amongst the employees and the difficult
living conditions of the migrants in these centres, results in the worsening of
assistance and individual support for the migrants who become easy targets for
all forms of exploitation.

In Pergusa, a suburb of Enna, around
100 migrants stay in a CAS*, yet only a fifth of
them have received dates to appear in front of the Commission. Ongoing
transfers and the lack of any legal assistance has led to the minimal
advancement in their application procedures, despite the fact they have been in
Italy for over nine months. The migrants’ exasperation is, to say the least,
justified. Their sentiments quickly turn to a more and more deep-rooted
distrust of ever having a future in Italy, as well as a distrust of how the
blatantly disastrous reception system is run.

The arrival at the new CAS* in Cava
d’Aliga (Ragusa), has coincided with a speeding up in the application for
documents for a group of around thirty Pakistani refugees, who were previously
staying in the CARA* of Pian Del. Even if this new CAS, located in a former
B&B, is able to provide legal and health assistance for migrants, it
nonetheless lacks the possibility for the migrants to integrate with ease in
their new environment, as it is situated a good distance from what is already a
small residential area. It would appear that the right to integrate with locals
is a luxury which can always come second.

The fight continues for those who are not free
to choose how to build a better future

Refugees who choose to cross the sea
know they are risking their lives, but sometimes, they can turn to the
companionship of friends and fellow nationals who made the journey before them.
A group of Somalis, who departed from Lybia, were able to call for help thanks
to contact they had with friends, by phoning the alarm phone activated by the
project Watch the Med, a solidarity
network which concretely reacts in order to prevent deaths in the sea.

The fight to reach the place in
which you want to restart your life, is ongoing for many, even after having
landed in Italy. A group of Syrian migrants who arrived by boat in Pozzallo
with the intention of going to northern Europe, refused to complete their
process of identification, as this would have confined them to stay in Italy in
order to obtain their documents here. It is yet another example of the
impracticability of the Dublin regulations and a reminder of their urgent need
for reform. During moments of tension in the Pozzallo CSPA (First Reception Centre), according to two witnesses: a Moroccan
activist, Nawal Soufi, and a reporter from Al Jazeera who was present, it was
necessary for the police to use force in order for the refugees to complete the

The unalterable possibility of a
rethink on the politics of the reception system and the management of migration
can be clearly seen in the city of Messina. It is a place which many migrants
travel through or stay for short periods as they attempt or organise their
escape north. In a system which is generally characterised by reception centres
on the brink of collapse and serious cases of promiscuity amongst vulnerable
subjects, migrants who are left to their own devices become highly
blackmailable people who can easily be recruited by all kinds of traffickers.
The Penelope Association, which for
many years has dealt with the trade, exploitation and trafficking of human
beings, indicates that the creation of a support network and the connection
between different organisations throughout the region, is the starting point
for providing individual assistance, something which we have forgotten is in
fact an inviolable right, to everyone.

Donate your ‘5 per mille’ to borderline sicilia onlus!!

The recent catastrophes at sea have
left over 1,100 dead in one week alone. On a yearly basis, there are tens of
thousands of victims of immigration in the Mediterranean. Borderline Sicilia is
committed to giving a voice to these people who normally become just a number in
news reports and statistics and to denouncing the abuse and violations within a
system which more often does not embody the real notion of reception. Continue
to donate your ‘5 per mille’ to Borderline Sicilia (cod. fisc. 90021510889)
this year. Help us give others a voice.

Info & Contacts

For further
information on how to make your 5×1000 donation to Borderline Sicilia Onlus- cod. fisc. 90021510889 and for further updates on migration in Sicily, visit our blog or follow us on facebook

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*CARA – Centro di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo:
Hosting centre for asylum seekers

– Istituto pubblico di assistenza e benessere: Charitable Public Assistance
– Sistema di protezione per rifugiati e richiedenti asilo: Protection System
for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

– Centro di accoglienza straordinaria: Emergency Reception Centre