Newsletter, December 2015

Europe wants new hotspots:
Italy continues to violate the rights of migrants.

Lampedusa, Agrigento and
Syracusa: rejections, detentions and expulsions among migrant protests and
institutional indifference.

New arrivals: ever greater
confusion and less respect for human dignity

Unaccompanied minors: when the
most vulnerable are the first to be turned away.

Europe wants new hotspots: Italy
continues to violate the rights of migrants.

Europe is asking to accelerate the opening
of new Hotspots in Sicily and apply the use of force in the taking of
fingerprints, justified through the delay in relocations due to the low number
of available migrant “candidates”. In the meantime, at Lampedusa, among other
places, the ‘deferred’ rejections continue to be carried out, repatriations and
expulsions handed out to migrants who are being selected at discretion, based
on their country of origin, without collecting to any other information. This
is the hypocrisy of a system which continues to speak in favour of integration
and protecting refugees while tying to stop their flow through physical force
and by employing practices “outside of any law”, as stated by organisations
ranging from Borderline Sicilia to Radio Popolare.

The Italian government is putting its faith
in previous commitments, suddenly transforming the CIE of Milo into a Hotspot.
Without any defined regulation or clear juridical status, and in a building
still in the process of being rebuilt, they are already proceeding with the
first transferrals of migrants there.

MSF decides to close its project of medical
assistence and psychological support in the CPSA of Pozzallo, and other CAS in
Ragusa. Within a month since the sending of a detailed report criticising the
CPSA, the organisation’s team have not found the minimal political will for a
serious intervention and have declared it impossible to continue their own
mandate. This is a strong gesture of denunciation, by which MSF has renewed the
call for the development of a urgent and concrete response, while continuing
other projects in Sicily outside of the reception and sorting centres.

Lampedusa, Agrigento and Syracusa:
rejections, detensions and expulsions among migrant protests and institutional

The new politics of migration is
concretising into repressive police measures in relation to refugees, and yet
again Lampedusa is the model on which practice followed in other centres are
being based. Once again Sicily is seeing migrants forced into photo
identification, deported on the bases of new agreements with countries far from
secure, as well as people rejected and left on the street. Expulsions of asylum
seekers still pending appeal of denial on administrative grounds, discretional
evaluations by officials working on shifts, given powers of selection over the
objects of their repression in an entirely illegitimate and discriminatory
manner. This is all happening to hundreds of migrants from Subsuharan and the
Horn of Africa in the province of Agrigento, frequently those who are
vulnerable, under age, or victims of violence. People with broken lives who are
seeing their desire for freedom destroyed by a country which is currently
showing itself to be profoundly racist. In the mean time, the relevant
institutions are calling for new deals with Europe and tertiary countries,
making the right of asylum so much scrap paper.ù

The deplorable practice of deferred
rejections are being used again in the province of Syracuse, where dozens of migrants
have found themselves on the streets with an order to leave Italy by Fiumicino
Airport within seven days. Whoever tries to explain the real, frequently tragic
reasons that they are fleeing, hits up against invisible walls. In a moment of
the gradual dismantling of every protection, Borderline Sicilia Is urgently
asking for the restoration of the conditions necessary for guaranteeing the
survival of fundamental rights, in a statement issued alongside other
associations in Sicily.

But nonetheless the migrants are managing
to make their voice heard. More than two hundred hunger striking refugees
filled the roads of Lampedusa, invoking their freedom of movement and the right
to chose the country in which they will build their futures. Illegally detained
for weeks in the new Hotspot, put under psychological pressure and degrading
detainment, they are refusing to become merely numbers for a Europe which
thinks only of how to govern, select and transfer them as it pleases. Whoever
is declared to be “irregular” by this exclusional system, a state of
abandonment and extreme precarity is accompanied by the threats of new
xenophobic attitudes, nourished by recent government practices which thus
displace any attention from those for whom the institutions themselves continue
to do nothing.

New arrivals: ever greater confusion
and less respect for human dignity

The arrivals continue, characterised by a
new rise in security measures. Whoever survives immediately encounters
instruments of control and subdivision by which civil society is kept at due
distance, while the admissions to the CARA at Mineo have recommenced, which for
some months had seen only departures.

The investigations of the Parliamentary
Anti-Mafia Commission of the Regional Assembly of Sicily are continuing in
relation to the CARA of Mineo. This has confirmed the existence of a “red
thread” which brings together the events of the CARA and SPRAR centres in the
area of Caltagirone and the political environment of the capital. The
investigations evidence the role played by key politicians and others in hiring
drivers, in the creation of purely “cosmetic” integration activities, and many
others things which we still do not know about the appalling management of the
CARA, where so many migrants still remain, people who might as well have

Contrary to every human decency, false
promises continue to mislead citizens about what is actually happening. Thus
different institutional representative declare themselves ready for the
reception of the thousand migrants disembarked at Palermo over this past year,
making assurances about working first of all for the hundreds of minors. Once
out of the spotlight however, it is Europe instead who the Italian government
does not want to disappoint: and thus in the name of new and confusing
directives, young migrants pass the night at the port and then, yet again, in
inappropriate structures, while at the wharf the barbaric division is executed
between those who have a hope of a future in Italy, and those who are excluded
from it. The only remaining certainty is the absence of the state and law.

Unaccompanied minors: when the most
vulnerable are the first to be turned away.

The continuing slaughter of migrants
fleeing over land and sea includes many minors, who have lost their lives this
month. The hypocrisy of those who express pain and rage in relation to these
young victims becomes intolerable in the context of the treatment reserved for
their peers who survive. A great deal of minors have been detained within the
CPSA of Pozzallo for entire weeks, while another hundred or so have been
abandoned to an indeterminate waiting in centres dispersed throughout the
centre of Sicily, where the crisis and isolation awakes the revival of racism
all the more easily, and a peaceful future morphs into a mirage.

Whether the different actors involved in
the reception sector approach it with charity or business in mind is obvious
above all in the methods of managing protection and waiting times for the
relocation of minors. In the provinces of Palermo and Agrigento, the waiting
time within the centres of high specialisation is months and months, with no or
fair reasonable criteria adopted for their relocation to the dedicated
communities. Interruptions to the process of integration, itself begun only
with great effort, minors being treated like so many mailed parcels, frequently
in the name of necessity and urgency of freeing up useful positions, provides
the basis for protests undertaken by some migrants in Trapani, following the
closure of the centre from which they were removed: a long march ending up at
the Prefecture, in order to recall the rights of those who need protection.

Among many examples of an unwelcoming
system, those normal citizens who take care of new arrivals simply because of
who they are fortunately remain strong. The objective of the workers in the
centre for minors in Mazzarino is exactly that of allowing migrants to
integrate with their peers at school, and through sport and game activities,
but above all to create a strong bond of trust and cooperation between the
young men and the whole local community. To this end, they are announcing
innovative projects created by the young guests themselves.

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Richard Braude