Reception in Pozzallo becomes more and more militarized

Today, the second boat within four days has arrived at Pozzallo. On Wednesday, January 17th not less than 367 refugees where brought to the seaport aboard the navy boat Cigala Fulgosi, whereas another 105 migrants have arrived aboard Siem Pilot, a norwegian navy boat making part of the Triton/Frontex programme.

Although they arrive on navy boats or are aboard boats serving rescue and sea control operations, the migrants immediately face the less publicized but more pervasive and structuring aspects of the so-called “reception” system, thus they face control, division an dmilitarization measures.

This morning, 63 men, 28 women and 14 unaccompanied minors, most of which come from sub-saharian countries, but also from Egypt, Eritrea and Somalia, reached Pozzallo. And also today, the first people they had contact with, after leaving the boat, were police forces as well as Frontex staff, in charge for people’s searchings, controls and inquiries. It is up to them to have the first contact to these people who usually are under shock, and can barely stand on two feet, and not up to employees from the UNHCR, OIM or Save the Children, who are able to speak to the refugees only once, as soon as they are brought to their coaches, which take them to the next hot spot. Various refugees are being interrogated for a long time on the quay, some others are sitting on the floor, separated from the others, which seems to be an usual procedure.

The cold wind blows strong, but the main concern of the agents is to gather information about the refugees, confront the new arrived people and collect data and numbers to report, instead of caring about those people who just arrived from a boat trip during which they risked their live, and giving them some time to calm down. As they are arriving, the refugees are not even given the possibility to go to the toilets, as chemical toilets are still missing at the quay. Some say it is a “lack of money”, we rather say it is a consequence of ignorance of policy-makers, which turn out to be simply inhuman. The disembarking procedure could easily last four or five hours, and there seems to be no change in the near future.

Various migrants who went through these procedures were asked upon arrival whether they intended to settle down in Italy. And, if they wanted to do so, they were asked to unveil the name of the people who drove the boat. After having given testimonials and a waiting time of several months, captured in a state of uncertainty and confusion, set out in the streets without knowing how to survive.
Nevertheless, the counting of alleged “smugglers”, also minors, goes on, whereas many do recognize now that the majority of the captured people are not the actual organizers of the boat trips; but that these are people who were forced under threats or because of necessity to drive those boats to cross the sea. What we see today is totally coherent with the decisions adapted by Italy and the Fortress Europe, who support cruel dictators and deliver guns to factions at war, just to govern this way who risked their lives while escaping from hell with all its consequences. Even those who flee are categorized in a discriminating kind of way; during that procedure, they face violence again, allowing only few people to obtain protection and to build up a new life, profiting from institutional and stable measures, whereas most people are among the expulsed and the non-desired.

Lucia Borghi
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translated by David Hofstetter