Newsletter Migrantsicily – June 2012

• New arrivals on the Agrigento coast: traffickers in custody yet no sign of vessels
• Migrants riot on Linosa. The new organisation of the North Africa Emergency
• Egyptian migrants arrive on the Ragusa coast and at the port of Catania
• World Refugee Day is celebrated in Italy
• The Trapani CIE (Immigration Detention Centre) Serraino Vulpitta closes
• Lampedusa is not an island: A Buon Diritto Onlus publishes a dossier on the facts of immigration in 2011
• Events programmed for July 2012: Boat4People and LampedusaInFestival


The recent arrivals of north African citizens on the Agrigento
coast confirm that there has been a change of route and also of method in the way
in which these migrants are coming to Italy.

The arrivals which took place in June between Palma di Montechiaro and
Agrigento have one common factor: there is no trace of the vessel which brought
the migrants to Sicily. These circumstances have not slowed down the hard work
of the authorities investigating the cases, who work to identify the presumed
smugglers even when the migrants have not been brought ashore by the traffickers.

In countries like Tunisia,
where fishing is one of the main industries, the aggravation of the economic
climate due to the devastation which took place in the Maghreb region last
year, seems to have driven many a ship owner to attempt human cargoes in
addition to that of fish. Yet how is it possible to justify the actions of the
police who have been placing migrants who arrive on our shores in this way in
to custody? Furthermore, the migrants often require medical attention which is
probably due to the difficulties of swimming ashore during the night.

The last boat to arrive with
refugees from the sub-Sahara was on the 20th June in Lampedusa. A speed boat
with 50 Eritreans aboard arrived on one of the island’s beaches- a sign that
nothing has changed for those arriving from Lybia. And even though the CSPA (First Reception
Centre) in Contrada Imbriacola was ready to receive up to 250
“guests”, the migrants were instead sent to Cala Creta, a residence
on the island where they were locked up whilst awaiting transfer to Porto

Even though arrivals are sporadic during this period of good weather, it
is not a sign of anything positive. The air is heavy with expected refoulements
and shipwrecks.


Holding migrants
illegally in improvised emergency structures continues to occur on the Pelagie
islands. While the centre in Lampedusa, which despite being ready for weeks now
(following restructuring works carried out at no small cost to the tax payer)
remains closed. Many years’ experience in this sector have taught us that
improvising the way in which people are held without the support of the law in
terms of rights and security, will result in great risks being taken.

On Linosa, the 24
Tunisians who arrived on the island in the last couple of days are being held
in an improvised camp. The migrants have manifested their intolerance of the
situation by ransacking their accommodation. Everything risked catching fire
due to a faulty electrical wiring. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported,
but understandably there are complaints from the islanders.

In the last few
days, the Minister of the Interior has renewed its convention with the
organisations involved in the Praesidium
project in Sicily up until the end of the year. The UNHCR has decided not to
renew contracts for cultural mediators in Sicily. As for the reception system,
it should be noted that the Civil Protection will be officially excluded from
the management of the North African Emergency as of 30th June -an agreement
that was established under the Berlusconi government in April 2011 and extended
until December 2012. The Ministry of the
Economy and Finance ousted the Civil Protection, which deals with the North
African Emergency, after the financial upset following the poor management of
funds made available by the government until June 2012.

The Civil
Protection will however, remain responsible for payments made by the companies
who run the reception centres and deal with the placement of migrants until
30th June.

In reality, since
last April the system of transfer and placement of migrants has functioned
without the collaboration of the Civil Protection after the first financial
scandals began to emerge.

This situation
only makes worse the already precarious state of “health” of reception
in Sicily, especially for the vulnerable such as unaccompanied minors.

The SPRAR (Protection
System for Aslyum Seekers and Refugees) project “The Sunflowers” of
Mazzarino (CL) is the apple of the eye for the reception of foreign minors and
the first centre in Sicily to sign a convention with the Civil Protection last
April. Even though the coordinators of the project do not complain about the financial
difficulties they are facing, they feel it is very important to make it clear
that the majority of reception centres for emergency have not received funding
for some months now and for some centres it has been even a year. These are emergency
reception structures for adults and what are known as “bridge”
structures (reception and placement centres for unaccompanied minors). The
employees in the Mazzarino centre have in these months on the express request
of the Civil Protection, provided free legal consultation for the ten similar
structures throughout Sicily. This has been carried out in the absence of other
professional groups who would normally be used in such cases.

The news of the
ousting of the Civil Protection has not yet been made official and workers in
the sector are asking if it would be possible, for placement of unaccompanied
minors at least to return as a responsibility of the Prefecture.


Departures continue from Egypt where the political situation remains
charged with tensions and violence. A boat carrying 72 people was intercepted
off the Ragusan coast on the 12th June.

18 people, including 3 minors, were arrested on the charge of aiding
illegal immigration.

On the 27th June, another boat with 115 people aboard arrived in

Read the information from the local Anti- Racist associations:


The 20th June is World Refugee Day. Set up by the UNHCR, there are a
variety of celebrations which take place to mark the event. These often include
numerous speeches, the contents of which tend to jar with the real situation
faced by refugees in the world today. Recent data from the UNHCR states that
2011 was a record year for migration.

In Italy, this can be seen through the “North Africa Emergency”
which began over a year ago. In 2011, 62,692 migrants arrived in Italy by sea
and there were over 34,000 applications for international protection. A large
proportion of these applications have already been rejected by the Territorial
Commission and whilst various associations have requested humanitarian
protection for those who were forced to flee the war in Lybia, no answer has
yet come from the authorities.

Despite the huge amounts of public money allocated to emergency in Italy,
the problems associated with providing accommodation for migrants are enormous.
According to the recent report, “Invisible Migrants” based on the
situation in Rome, the use of unofficial accommodation has risen exponentially,
indicating the severity of the situation.

Finally, despite
the European Court of Justice’s conviction over the practice of refoulements at
sea, the agreements made with Lybia, which the current government seem to be
upholding, do not appear to have changed.

Sicily has Europe’s largest Hosting Centre
for Asylum Seekers (CARA) in Mineo, which organised a day of events with
various guests to mark World Refugee Day. We have published the words of the
Mayor of Palagonia, one of the boroughs of Caltagirone (near the Centre), which
explain why the CARA should be closed.


On 26th June 2012,
The Trapani Immigration Office confirmed that the CIE (Immigration Detention
Centre) Serraino Vulpitta has been
closed. The official reason given is for restructuring work to be carried out.
It is nonetheless a fact that the closure of this centre, one of the worst in
Italy, occurred following a visit on 11th May by the European MP Alessandra
Siragusa together with three other colleagues.

non-governmental organisations had been applying pressure in the months leading
up to its closure denouncing the inhumane living conditions which the migrants
faced inside the Sicilian CIEs.

The Trapani Centre, in
particular, motivated some deputees to deal with this difficult issue,
promising a report to outline the problems of the system of detention for
migrants on administrative grounds.

IN 2011

In the last 10
years, Italian politics has shown itself to be “substantially xenophobic”
with regard to immigration. This is the message to emerge from a report written
on what has happened to migrants and asylum seekers who arrived in Italy in
2011 wriiten by A Buon Diritto Onlus under the direction of the scientific
committee of Laura Balbo, Luigi Ferrajoli, Tamar Pitch, Giorgio Rebuffa, Eligio
Resta and Stefano Rodotà. It provides an interesting critical reading of the
decisions made in Italian politics in the area of immigration.


We want to
highlight two important events focussing on immigration to be held in Sicily in

is being promoted by an international committee which includes non- governmental
organisations from Africa and Europe. It is organised in Sicily by Borderline
Sicilia Onlus, Borderline Europe and Arci. Its purpose is to draw the attention
of the media and the public to the deaths that occur at sea and to defending
the rights of the migrants whilst at sea.

The upcoming
events will take place in Palermo on the 5th, 6th and 7th July. The programme
is available on:

is Europe’s most southern cinematographic festival and this summer it is
celebrating its fourth year. From 19th to 23rd July, the Pelagie island will
host the category of “Memory and Migration” and “Democracy.

Askavusa, the
Lampedusan association organising the event has financed the entire festival. For
further information on how to make donations and to receive the programme see: