NEWSLETTER Migrantsicily – April 2014

A permanent “Emergency”:
between rhetoric and reality

– April
arrivals at Sicilian ports

– Reactivating the strategy of

– The emergency system that

– Alfano’s latest invention: the Mineo ‘hub’

Alexander Langer Prize 2014 to
Borderline Sicilia


During the month of April a
considerable and foreseeable increase in the number of migrants reaching the
coast of Sicily was reported. Thousands have
arrived at the ports of eastern Sicily and, by virtue of operation Mare Nostrum,
the port of Augusta is the confirmed main hub.

Of equal importance has been the
flow of arrivals reported at the
ports of Pozzallo (Ragusa) and Empedocle (Agrigento)

However, in some cases the
ports of Messina
and Catania have also been in use.

In the face of such numbers
and, above all, in the light of the forthcoming European elections at the end
of May, the “immigration issue” is firmly back at the centre of public debate.

This debate, unfortunately, seems
once again to be framed within the discourse of emergency. The statement made
by minister Alfano regarding the 300/600 thousand people waiting to travel across
the Mediterranean is reminiscent of the
former minister Maroni, once again resorting to a strategy of fear.

Beyond the rhetoric, reports
continue of emergency procedures in Sicily in the management of migrant arrivals
that is actually generating a condition of real emergency.

The Italian reception “system” for asylum seekers, which has
been inadequate, chaotic and fragmented from the beginning, seems to have now disintegrated
completely. In the world of Sicilian
reception, which is a mishmash of overlapping governmental centres, SPRAR
centres, sorting centres and centres for extraordinary reception overseen by local

the great majority
of the facilities are overcrowded, and
reception conditions are clearly
inferior to the minimum standards endorsed by Italian regulations in the
Reception Conditions Directive.

There are, if rare, some
positive exceptions:

The ad hoc handling of the
arrivals and transfers has cost the life of Ebrima Jaiteh, a young man
from Gambia who arrived at the port of Augusta 11 April and was transferred to
the Umberto I first reception centre at Siracusa despite his precarious state
of health

Then there is the Mineo CARA,
isolated in the middle of the Plain of Catania and now at the centre of a new

old propaganda habits die

but what remains is still an
unacceptable ghetto where four thousand people have been waiting for
months/years for a hearing from the Territorial

The latest “controversy” – at
the moment merely hinted at but certainly guaranteed to blow up – is connected
to the idea of taking advantage of the expansion of SPRAR places and
transferring all the asylum seekers presently being accommodated at Mineo. This
would enable the use of the former Aranci
residential area as a hub for the
“reception” of migrants immediately after arriving at the port. As Minister
Alfano stated during the meeting at the Camera
dei Deputati
on 16 April, a new unprecedented
type of facility
is being considered – a kind of hub – devised as a
broad logistical base of first entry, in which, amongst other activities, identification,
photo identification, healthcare triage and legal documentation of the migrant
will be carried out. All in one hub.”

As the Italian
proverb says: “al peggio non c’è mai fine”: things just go from bad to worse.


The annual prize dedicated to
the memory of journalist Alexander Langer

has been awarded for 2014 to the Borderline Sicilia Onlus

(see TGR
Trentino Alto Adige – from 9 mins)

Borderline Sicilia Onlus
would like to dedicate this to the cause of “transparency and truth, and to all of our efforts to uncover and give voice
to these in the struggle for human rights”.