Newsletter Migrantsicily – December 2014


  • Investigation “Mafia Capital”: revealing the big business of reception centres for migrants and asylum seekers. On Mineo, Melilli, Catania and across the island.
  • The landings continue: What awaits those who manage to survive?
  • An inflexible and impenetrable system: The reception of migrants and asylum seekers in Agrigento and Caltanissetta
  • Giving voice to their own rights: migrants’ protests in Piana degli Albanesi and Catania
  • New territorial commissions: What will change for migrants?
  • Racism and Xenophobia observatory: Aggression and devastation in Avola and Messina
  • Info and contacts

Investigation “Mafia Capital”: Revealing the Big Business of Reception Centres for Migrants and Asylum Seekers. On Mineo, Melilli, Catania and across the Island

In Rome, the investigation “Mafia Capital” reveals the links between the criminal networks headed up by Carminati and assisted by Buzzi and Dr Luca Odevaine. The latter, a member of the national board for the reception of migrants and asylum seekers, and a consultant at the reception centre in Mineo, systematically allocated migrants from Mineo to Buzzi’s cooperative, scandalously creating a business out of migrant reception.

These conditions have already been denounced by Sicilian activists at the time of the reception centre’s opening at Mineo in 2011. Now they have discovered the institutions, politics, consortiums, cooperatives and private agents committed to divying up money and power off the backs of migrants.

But now more than ever, we must focus on those who are still ‘victims’ of these situations: the thousands of transitory migrants still housed at the reception centre for asylum seekers, deprived of their legal rights.

Borderline Sicilia, together with ASGI (Association for the study of migration law), reveal other violations of procedure regarding asylum seekers staying at the reception centre and request a full analysis of the present situation so that in the uproar of the scandal, human rights are not passed over in silence.

The Landings Continue: What Awaits Those Who Manage to Survive?

At the Sicilian ports of Pozzallo, Augusta, Port Empedocle, Catania and Messina, boat landings continue even after the end of operation “Mare Nostrum”. What is happening now is that while thousands of migrants are being rescued, many migrants continue to die as they are detected too late and the navy is undertaking fewer rescue missions. There are terrible stories which receive little attention in the media, while the reception industry seems not to have improved at all.

The end of the year brings deadlines for many operating contracts in the reception centres. In the intricate web of delays and indebtedness, the needs of migrants always seem to matter least. The case of Pozzallo

and of Messina. Here, during the Global Day of Action for the Rights of Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People, some members of the Antiracist Network managed to get inside Pala Nebiolo and display a banner proclaiming the need for a more humane migrant reception system.

In the meantime, in the numerous first and second reception centres dispersed throughout the area, those forced to wait indefinitely are searching for new strategies to construct a future and not to give in to desperation. Most of the times relying simply on their own resources.

An Inflexible and Impenetrable System: the Reception Centres for Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Agrigento and Caltanissetta

In Agrigento, the management of migration too frequently appears improvised. This disorganisation is visible from the moment of arrival at Port Empedocle, up to the consequent allocating of the migrants into the centres dispersed through the area. This centres often lack the most basic services, such as medical assistance. The accompanying silence of the authorities goes hand in hand with the inactivity of the prefecture with regard to the future assignment of the management of the centres and the monitoring of the existing ones, shortly before the imminent opening of the CPSA (centre of first reception) in Lampedusa.

In September, Borderline Sicily visited the reception centre for asylum seekers (‘Cara’) and the reception centre (‘Cda’) in Pian del Lago, together with other members of the LasciateCIEntrare Network (‘Let us in the detetion centres’). In October a European delegation which visited the same reception centre. After several months, the same serious shortcomings in relation to the migrants remain.

The visits by the parlamentarians became an occasion for clearing away, without warning, some of the last migrant camps around the reception centre for asylum seekers at Pian del Lago, with the effect of rendering still more invisible the inadequacy and culpability of the system, and to create new situations of exploitation and marginality with regard to migrants.
In Montedoro too, a small place in the province of Caltanissetta and the domiciles of two emergency reception centres, the situation still leaves much to be desired. The migrants and the staff members face severe difficulties to deal with the requests and suspect practices of the prefecture.

which become even less manageable in the absence of proper legal assistance and with the unstructured family run centres

Fortunately, there are people around Caltanissetta who have dedicated themselves for years to proper migrant reception, circumnavigating the logic of emergency. They give meaning to words like ‘integration’, and valuing the abilities of those who arrive, responding to their need for orientation, but above all providing them with the instruments to reconstruct a free and independent life. These are the objectives of the staff member at the reception centre ‘I Girasoli’ in Mazzarino.

Giving Voice to Their Own Rights: Migrants’ Protests in Piana Degli Albanesi and Catania

Asylum seekers staying at the reception centre San Giorgio, in the small village of Piana degli Albanesi, went on hunger strike in protest against the conditions in which they have been forced to live for months. This is a place in which integration is extremely difficult, waiting is indefinite and without basic protections. Moreover, there is a constant blame game played out between the authorities, sustained by their usual excuse of ’emergency’.
In Catania a group of unaccompanied minors at the La Madonnina centre in Mascalucia have made their voice heard. Leaving for the city by foot, they passed a night in the cold, knocking on the door of the prefecture, to complain about the mislaying of their clothes, the impossibilty of going to school, leaning italian or making telephone calls. To recieve a proper reception and someone who can protect them.

New Territorial Commissions: What Will Change for Migrants?

The new territorial commissions will soon be active, expanding from 10 to 20, deriving from a new financial structure. Under the current system, the hearings are often superficial and there is a consistent rise in rejections, and one might ask himself/herself what new guarantees asylum seekers will have at each stage of the process.

Racism and Xenophobia Observatory: Aggression and Devastation in Avola and Messina

In a generally intolerant enviroment, episodes of intolerance against migrants do not cease, sometimes overflowing into acts of open racism. In Avola, near Siracusa, some young men were throwing insults and objects at a SPRAR centre (centre for protection of refugees and asylum seekers) for two consecutive days. A worrying signal of how the chaotic management of the so-called ‘migration reception’ system may be the first obstacle to integration.
Turning to Messina, the office of the ARCI association ‘Thomas Sankara’ was looted and destroyed. The association stands for the defense of migrants’ rights, raising awareness, and for the integration of migrants with the people of Messina.

Infos and Contacts

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