#Overthefortress: A Two-Month Journey from Sicily to Rome Within and Beyond the Central Mediterranean Route

From Meltingpot.org

stops, 3,400km, one camper: join the journey and support the

#overthefortress camper departing at the Port of Igoumenitsa will
land in Southern Italy for a project of investigation and independent
communication side by side with migrants and groups in the area, to
examine common sites and dominant narratives, and to provide space to
a politics of welcoming, solidarity and civil engagement.

journey starts on Monday October 31st
from Pozzallo (province of Ragusa), including a pressconference.


two-month journey starting in Sicily, crossing Calabria, Puglia,
Basilicata, Campania and Lazio, with a final stop in Rome on 22nd

Throughout the journey there will
be multimedia reports, live videos and a multimedia collective

the journey’s stops with the campaign’s activists (viewthe map).

information: overthefortress@meltingpot.org
and +39 348 248 3727 (office) / +39 335 123 7814 (camper).

us: meltingpot.org

the end of October the #overthefortress camper will take off from
Igoumenitsa towards the coast of Puglia. The #overthefortress
campaign which left from Ancona and Bari last March to join the
informal camp at Idomeni on the Greek-Macedonian border has been
reassembled in the Sicilian port town.

March the situation for refugees blocked in Greece, following the
agreement with Turkey and the near-total closure of the Balkan Route,
has drastically worsened.

to remain in government camps in dehumanising hygienic conditions,
their hope of reaching another European country to find protection,
or of being reunited with their families, is being stuck in a
cumbersome and slow bureaucratic machine.

Syrians, the relocation program is simply a wheel which fails to spin
in the right way for many, while for those coming from other areas of
war or misery even this slender thread of hope has been entirely
snapped, and the choices by now are few: claim asylum in Greece and,
in case of rejection, risk being deported to one’s original country;
or pay a trafficker, putting oneself at risk of being rejected by the
“migrant hunt” at the militarised borders, or being blocked in
one of the countries along the Balkan route. The situation in the
country itself has also decidedly deteriorated: given the illegal
detentions, forced deportations and inadequate reception system means
that none of the refugees want to stay there.

Balkan route, and Greece in particular, as we saw with our own eyes
and thanks to the testimony provided over the past months, has become
a huge EU laboratory for the management of migration flows. Across
this vast area, in fact, an advanced model of militarisation is being
enacted, as well as the externalisation of Europe’s frontiers,
impeding migrants’ right to free movement and producing a generalised
reduction in the right to asylum. The goal of all this is not only to
block people’s initial departure, but also to produce a narration on
forced migration which reverses that of last year, which had allowed
the Dublin Regulation to be re-examined and had opened up a breach in
the high walls set up along the borders.

the numerous accounts regarding the violation of fundamental human
rights and the denunciations from the Court of Justice and the
European Court of Human Rights, it is difficult to imagine that in
the near future, without a strong political movement on a European
level, the situation will loosen up, and agreements such as that with
Turkey will be re-discussed, given that the Europe Union has proposed
similar agreements with Afghanistan and is always more eager to sign
them with other countries from which migrants are arriving.

if the Turkish route to Europe seems closed, we know well that the
other pathways – riskier still for people’s lives – might open up
in the following months.

[Photo by Fabian Melber]

Mediterranean route has never ceased to be the most dangerous
crossing in the world, and over the last year more than 4,000 people
have fallen victim to current European policies which do not allow
any secure method of reaching the continent. Even if the numbers are
less than those in Greece, those arriving in Italy (around 153,000
people – source: UNHCR) have shown that the Mediterranean route is
currently the only one open and, at the same time, that the migratory
flow from North Africa, for a series of economic, ecological and
social reasons, ought be considered structural and cannot be defined
anymore as “exceptional”. Historically, Italy has been the
country of arrival for this route, but for many it is simply a
country of transit (in 2014, of 170,000 people who arrived, only
63,546 claimed asylum; in 2015, of 153,842 people who landed, there
were 83,970 requests – source: Eurostat), has this year become a
country pushed to the brink to the fact that the possibility of
passing across the Northern border has been blocked.

“new” approach in European policies which, via the Hotspots
located in southern Italy, forces migrants to be identified,
including through the use of force, on the one hand has recently been
made worse still by the so-called ‘Alfano Plan’ which has established
the practice of deporting people blocked at Ventimiglia and Como,
above all back to the Hotspot at Taranto. On the other hand, forcing
people to stay here, and the obligation to claim asylum, has shed
light on the clear limits of the (already unstable) Italian reception
system, strongly connected to a business logic and the maximisation
of profit, while also showing a clear absence of adequate services
and opportunities of social participation and work experience for
migrants. This improvised, flawed system – visible above all in the
forms of ‘extraordinary’ reception from North to South Italy – is
also evident in the parts of the country where asylum seekers, and
migrants in general, form a workforce deprived of its rights and
exploited in the agricultural sector, which is often chosen by the
large-scale distribution system of supermarkets.

the end of October the camper of the #overthefortress solidarity
campaign will land at Brindisi and spend two months crossing the
regions of the Italian South. Starting in October 31st
at Pozzallo in Sicily, it will move from stop to stop, meeting with
and providing space to civil society groups working with migrants and
struggling alongside them for their rights, while at the same time
monitoring what is happening across the area, telling the stories of
people who we meet, while also interweaving the accounts with
positive experiences of reception, too frequently forgotten and
praised far too little.

by an emergency system, the violation of human rights and a
generalised inhumanity which is propagating like a kind of lethal
cancer, we feel it is necessary and important to begin our journey
again, so as to narrate, to denounce and to act together with those
who are still not numb to our current situation.


  • all
    those who have helped us build the map for the route, providing us
    with contacts and sharing information
  • Gabriele
    Cipolla for the promotional video
  • Fabian
    Melber (photojournalist) for the kind use of his photos, and to
    Saverio Serravezza

Throughout the journey we will be
making multimedia reports, live videos and a multimedia collective

support the #overthefortress camper, please contribute to our

“OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline
Sicilia Onlus

Translation by
Richard Braude