Nowadays you can also die of machine gun

The news is from yesterday: a migrant is dead because of a shooting off the Libyan coast. While the prosecution and the questioning of the witnesses continues – also that of a Gambian youngster who was wounded and transported to the hospital in Palermo – the Italian News Agency Ansa made available the draft by the European Council for the new guidelines of migration matters, to be discussed at the final summit, scheduled for the weekend (editor´s note June 27-28).
It is truly alarming to read that the aim of the Member States is that of creating “temporary and exceptional mechanisms for the distribution” and relocation of around 40.000 migrants, of working together for the setting up of structured border zones and facilities in the frontline Member States” and of the famous hotspots, where the identification and thus the repatriation of “excluded” migrants from Fortress Europe will be faster; at the same time Ms Mogherini underlines that “the target are the smugglers and not the migrants”, while she launches the European naval operation against the former. It seems that Europe does not take so much of an interest in the migrants, if after hundreds and hundreds of deaths at sea and a of so-called system of first reception full of shortcomings, these are still the proposals put on the table.

How comes that until today it has not been thought about, and worked on, the multiple causes forcing migrants to escape and ways to secure them a safe entry in our countries? Of all this there is no sign in the different discussion proposals, both European and not; at the same time there are plenty of hypocritical talks about Europe and its need to find a human side, as well as the apologies for those national governments striving to give aid to the migrants, without saying that at the same time they contribute to letting the countries, where the refugees come from, go hungry.

In the meantime, 292 migrants arrived at the port of Pozzallo this morning, among them the corpse of a migrant killed in a shooting that happened soon after the departure from Libya. There were several journalists awaiting the disembarkation of the corpse, which happened more or less two hours after the arrival of the vessel managed by MSF (Doctors Without Borders) at the harbour, around 9 a.m. At the port few seconds of silence. Afterwards the slow alternation of landing operations, which lasted one more time too long. As a matter of fact only after the inspection by the doctors of the Usvam, the migrants started to disembark, among them a newly born and a pregnant woman who had been travelling for days and were unable to land in advance. Together with the police authorities and Frontex, which were ready to conduct the first interrogations on the piers, there were the Red Cross, the Italian Civil Defence, members from the Praesidium, MSF, Terres des Hommes, the major of Pozzallo and the vice chief constable.

In the meantime and only few meters away the CPSA* was being emptied to make room for the new arrivals. This is also the reason why the identification and registration measures have not been carried out at the piers, given the risk of a further delay in the different operations. The buses, ready for the short transfer, arrived within 15-20 minutes´ distance from each other, thus expanding the waiting time; at the same time women, men and children landed with their faces covered by cloths and towels protecting them from the sunlight.

Slow moves, fixed looks and unperturbed faces contrast decisively with the agitated, and often nervous, expressions of those who are “receiving” them. The migrants follow the path they are told without speaking, after having travelled with those who did not make it. Those who look at them can understand how it results impossible and shameful to get used to these scenes, perhaps it’s just a moment of silence that would be necessary, to think one more time about all that what we continue to listen to, to believe and to do.

Lucia Borghi

Borderline Sicilia Onlus

*CSPA/CPSA – Centro di Soccorso e prima Accoglienza: Centre of first aid and first reception

Translation: Marco Baldan