NEWSLETTER Migrantsicily – February/March 2014

Many thanks for the precious contributions from all of the volunteers who make up the Borderline Sicilia team. As of this month we are starting up again the free newsletter subscription service through which we provide updates on the most significant events of the past month from the microcosm that is the Sicily migration phenomenon.
Our heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of readers who during the long interruption have provided encouragement to restart our service, underlining the importance of the Migrantsicily newsletter for their studies and research, with its insights on stories that are of great relevance but are all too often left untold if not in fact overlooked or misrepresented.
Our objective has always been to give voice to those who are without, in a society in which the individual is too taken up with their own suffering and disadvantages to listen to those of others, in which others are often singled out as a cause of their own problems, in which it is no longer possible to understand that the struggle for the guarantee of fundamental rights and respect for human dignity is without borders, and concerns not only the interest of the individual at local or national level, but everyone.

Best wishes to all our readers! From the editors of Migrantsicily

· 1 February 2014: The Lampedusa Charter is drawn up

· AT THE LIMEN – Publication of report on the application of European Return Directives on repatriation in Italy, Cyprus and Spain

· Migrants protest fromTrapani to Caltanissetta, via Mineo


· Surge in arrivals: Overcrowding in Sicilian reception centres

· Re-explosion of the “unaccompanied foreign minors” emergency: inadequate reception in emergency facilities


1 February 2014: The Lampedusa Charter is drawn up
From 31 January to 2 February 2014 at Lampedusa a broad and heterogeneous network of people, groups and organizations gathered with the aim of putting together and approving “The Lampedusa Charter”, an agreement for the drawing up of a “new geography of freedom”
The different sentiments of those who participated over the three days were likewise reflected amongst those on the island over the ten days Borderline Sicilia spent there: from citizens to the representatives of the organizations, from the Lieutenant Commander of the Coast Guard to the marine soldiers.

AT THE LIMEN – Publication of the report on the implementation of European Return Directives in Italy, Cyprus and Spain

Published at the beginning of February, “AT THE LIMEN” is a product of a body research carried out in the field from 1 August, 2012 to 31 January, 2014 by Borderline-Europe in collaboration with its partner organizations Borderline Sicilia, KISA of Cyprus, and the two Spanish associations Mugak and Andalucía Acoge.
The subject of the research is a study of the detention of migrants awaiting expulsion in different European countries, comparing the conditions under which they are detained and how the European Return Directive for their repatriation is implemented.

Migrant protests from Trapani to Caltanissetta, via Mineo
The system of detention and reception of migrants and asylum seekers in Sicily is made up of various centres which differ amongst themselves. The traditional distinctions between CIE (Immigration Expulsion Centres), CARA (accommodation centres for asylum seekers), CPSA (centres for first assistance and reception), CDA (first reception centres), and SPRAR (longer term centres for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees), do not give a real picture of the actual situation, which is further complicated by the ongoing reactivation of CAS (centres for extraordinary reception) and improvised first reception centres in ex-hotels, resorts, country houses, and sports centre complexes.
Overfilled, inadequate or inexistent health services, abnormal waiting times for an audience in front of the Territorial Commission, conditions of isolation and mismanagement of pocket-money allocation are the main reasons that have led to the numerous protests by the migrants accommodated or detained within these facilities.
Alongside thousands of asylum seekers caught up in this waiting-room limbo for their interview “of a lifetime”, there are other migrants, potential asylum seekers, who are denied even access to the crumbling Italian protection system through the practice of deferred refusals, or rather refusals carried out on Italian soil.


Surge in arrivals: reception centres overflowing throughout Sicily
The month of March saw an improvement in weather conditions, which were followed by a notable increase in the arrivals to Sicily.
The situation in the various Sicilian centres, already in a critical condition, is on the brink of total collapse. Where, on the one hand, in Caltanissetta the improvised camp “Pian del Lago 2”, built near the government building of Nicosia has been cleared, where for months hundreds of asylum seekers waited for “reception”; whilst on the other, the places in emergency centres in the province have increased.
In Agrigento the situation has certainly not improved. A million in deficit and late repayments create considerable difficulties for the centre managers, resulting in a further worsening of reception centre conditions.
In addition, the lack of places in these centres has even led to the temporary acquisition by the local government of an industrial warehouse situated within the Port of Empedocle.
Chaos also reigns at Trapani, the province with the largest number of CAS (centres for extraordinary reception). In addition, the events at the CIE (immigration expulsion centre) at Milo, rather than being closed down, has been entrusted to the Italian Red Cross in lieu of the announcement of a new call for tenders, making clear yet again the lack of coordination between local government and Ministry
At the CARA at Mineo, unfortunately, there is no confusion: only a silent and artificial calm.

The return of the “unaccompanied foreign minors” emergency: inadequate reception in emergency facilities
Regarding the Mare Nostrum operation, the commercial port of Augusta has been identified as the “ideal spot” to disembark migrants rescued in the Sicilian straits.
Despite this, the lack of any organized adequate transfer system for the migrants is clear. This is most noticeable for the many recently arrived non-accompanied minors who are being accommodated in sports centre complexes, previously at Palajonio in Augusta
and in Brucoli, a coastal town under the administration of Augusta.
The minors wait for weeks on end in situations of discomfort and risk before being transferred to the designated accommodation or SPRAR centres, where it seems there is an insufficient number of places available, not least due to a lack of coordination between the local and national authorities concerned.