So much hypocrisy and confusion, only one certainty: death – Agrigento

Agrigento – our journey had stopped in Palermo, at the confusion and the incompetence of the local politicians, as well as the one of their national colleagues, in giving adequate answers to the phenomenon. Let’s start again this time from Agrigento, where surely the situation is not bright, on the contrary it is rather pitch dark, where everything appears as concealed by the dominant powers, where news is issued when only something very serious happens that cannot be silenced.

Agrigento has a record. More than 40 CPA* for unaccompanied minors are spread around its province (but for the district of Sciacca): a number of about 1.300 boys. A tempting business, because the daily allowance for minors alone rises to 45€ from the 35€ due to the managing authority.

Only in the town of Agrigento there are 20 centres for minors but only one language evening school for the large number of schoolboys.

The chronic shortage of people willing to be appointed guardians of those boys is the hardest question. The youngsters can spend 4 to 5 months without any guardian inside the centres. As a consequence minors are prevented from doing lots of useful or even necessary activities. Imagine only the case of an health emergency: the managing authority or a worker are the appointed guardian of a boy, that means there is inconsistency between the actors due to their opposite interests.

Until recently the probate judge of the Agrigento court had lawyers and social workers who gave their time and professionalism in order to facilitate burocracy applied to unaccompanied minors, yet they now complain they have been left alone both by court and by city administration, social services included.

Moreover, a large number of minors complain about the difficulty they face when relating with the community workers from where they live because of the absence of mediators for language (too often expected but called only, when things go hard) and psychologists.

How is the available money spent? Who monitors those structures? Who listens to the young guests and their guardians, who could write novels about the intransparent dynamics inside the centres?

The answer is always the same: no one, as well because playing with the emergency of peoples lives and the confusion around that is an easy way to enrich yourselves!

So, after their vain hopes, for most minors the solution is escaping and distance themselves from the communities, because – as a guardian told us – we are not able to let them live in Italy; because of our fault they are completely detached from real life. We cannot help them integrate and no one controls any of these processes, on the contrary there is connivance and indulgence among the administration inspectors and the referrals of the communities.

Unaccompanied minors get away, like D., a girl from Senegal who was separated from her younger brother by the careless and unconcerned staff, who is used to consider people as numbers instead of humans and willing to listen to them. D. was looking for her little brother, who was first assigned to another community, then hospitalized because of a serious illness. Thanks to her willingness, she finally found him in the hope of restoring her family with the only one left. But because of dull burocratic issues, they had no way to stay in the same community. So D. decided to flee with her brother looking for a better life. Who will D. count on? How will she pay those profiteers without scruple, that surely will take advantage of her the moment she wants to realize her dream? We will never know, but we are sure that traffickers and smugglers do thank Europeans for their laws that help them in their dirty heartless job!

In Agrigento there are not only unaccompanied minors, there are also families and adults, all of them guests in the 12 CAS* left in the province, when the centres of Naro and Favara have closed because of default: they were both run by the social cooperative Omnia Academy.

Most of the migrants arrive at Agrigento from the CSPA* in Lampedusa. They are led there by a number of policemen and “carabinieri” on the ferry line from Monday to Friday. We can only imagine the ship-owner’s gain in this bargain!

As soon as they land at Porto Empedocle, with no mediators nor volunteers, migrants are led to Villa Sicania (at Siculiana) a giant sorting centre, just in order to wait to be transferred to another centre in Sicily or somewhere else in Northern or Central Italy because there is not enough room in here, …but this after several weeks or months only!

Stay with us, our journey does not end here…We will continue in Trapani.

Alberto Biondo

Borderline Sicily

Translation: Fernanda Pecile

*CPA – Centro di Soccorso e prima Accoglienza: Centre of first accommodation

*CAS – Centri d’Accoglienza Straordinaria: Centres for Extraordinary Reception

*CPSA – Contrada Imbriacola: Primary care and first reception centre in Lampedusa