The Cas/Sprar of piazza Armerina managed by the association Don Bosco 2000

On May 25, we have been invited to visit the reception centre of Piazza
Armerina managed by the association Don Bosco 2000, which has 46 accommodation
places for first reception and further 50 places as part of the SPRAR* project.
The association Don Bosco 2000 has been active in the field of reception since
2001 and currently manages also another reception project in the city of Aidone

The management is mixed also at a structural level, since the guests are
divided between a community facility (a
former hostel on two floors that has 4 rooms with 5-6 beds on the ground floor,
4 external bathrooms and double rooms with bathrooms on the upper floor) and 7
independent apartments which are all located within the city centre.
Furthermore, the project includes also women and two households.

At our arrival, after speaking to some of the guests who said to be
happy, we were welcomed by the legal operator who immediately showed his
willingness to illustrate the organizational management of the centre.

The team is composed by a female officer, who is also in charge as a
psychologist if necessary, of formulating accompaniment reports in the
Commission, a social assistance operator, an Italian language teacher, a female
social mediator and a reception operator, two cleaners and two cooks for the
internal canteen. The female social mediator is of Nigerian origins, whereas
there is no language mediator for guests from Pakistan and Afghanistan who are
living at the centre. In addition to giving legal advice to the guests when
they arrive at the centre, the legal operator also assists in preparing the hearing
at the local Commission. He further deals with linguistic and cultural

The Italian language course, subdivided in two levels, takes place every
morning from Monday to Friday. Many of the guests also attend a course at the local
centre for permanent training twice a week in order to obtain the Certification
of Italian as a foreign language, while some of the younger guests attend local
high schools.

Furthermore, some training internships have been started in
collaboration with 15 different approved businesses of the area, and therefore
it was possible to offer the opportunity of work placements also to first
reception beneficiaries.

Pocket money is being distributed to everyone as shopping vouchers that
can be used in diverse types of shops with whom an agreement has been made
(like tobacco retailer, groceries, hair dressers).

The officer of the centre explains us that the decision to distribute
also the pocket money in form of vouchers relies on the agreement that the CAS** has made with the prefecture, which foresees that the disbursement should not
be in cash. Therefore, in order not to discriminate the guests who are part of
the project of the prefecture against those who are part of the SPRAR project,
it has been decided to disburse the pocket money for all in the same way.

The weekly expenditure of those who live in the apartments is directly
managed by the beneficiaries through the disbursement of shopping vouchers. For
guests living in the facility, the canteen is internal and two cooks are
responsible for the meals that are served at different hours of the day: from
7am to 10am breakfast, from 1pm to 2pm lunch, and from 8pm to 9pm dinner. The
facility has different rooms used for the meals.

Moreover, there are several common rooms, from a TV room to an internet
room. Besides, considering that the facility is linked to the youth centre of
the church, during the day the guests can benefit from additional recreational
spaces and several afternoon activities, in which also locals participate.

The wardrobe service is ensured with every season changing through the
disbursement of shopping vouchers of 80€ that can be spent in agreed clothing

The impression on the management of this centre is positive and the fact
that the managing association is committed to guarantee the reception standards
of the SPRAR system to all guests results to be a fundamental aspect. Indeed,
it is this casual mixture which ensures that even the first reception is
dignified and in support to a process of autonomy.

However, the severe problem of the long waiting times for the hearing at
the Commission remains. A problem that afflicts, as always, most of the guests.
All those with whom we spoke illustrated this problem. In particular, one of
them has been waiting for his convening for 17 months. The problem of waiting
is experienced by all the guests. As explained by the officer of the centre
with whom I spoke, The Commission of Enna is proceeding very slowly with an
average of just 4 convening per week, although the Commission has been active
since last May 16. Furthermore, it shows not to have a calling criteria for the
order of the convenings, which seems to be casual instead of following the date
in which a request has been made.

On this issue we heard that within the CAS of Pergusa, which we visited last month and where the average waiting times
for the convening to the Commission of Enna were about 15 months (because of
the repeated transfers of asylum seekers and consequentially the change of
the responsible Commission), there have been further demonstrations and only
now the first convening have been made.

Giovanna Vaccaro

Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation: Chiara Guccione

*CAS – Centri d’Accoglienza Staordinaria: centres for extraordinary
Sistema di protezione per rifugiati e richiedenti asilo: protection facilities
for asylum seekers and refugees