The CPSA of Pozzallo remains closed and the finance police carries out a raid

The CPSA* of Pozzallo is closed and empty since the 7th of January, but alarming news keep coming in. On the morning of January 15, finance police officers of Ragusa have visited the center to investigate the alleged existence of unregistered items, which would trigger a notification for fraud and embezzlement.

The results of the investigation are obviously still unknown, but it is certain that in the preceding weeks and following the closing, the CPSA has been the focus of numerous controversies.
At the end of the year some pictures taken by the operators of the center have been released, showing rotten mattresses and the poor hygienic conditions of the structure. The center in that moment hosted more than a hundred migrants, including some minors. After the picture release media reported testimonies of some of the refugees, who denounced the lack of clothes and linen, the poor or non-existent medical care and the freezing temperatures inside the hangar.

A dramatic and potentially explosive situation, in which once again minors were detained in a CPSA for more than a week, in accordance with a general disregard of the law – which imposes an immediate transfer- and the inevitable justification provided by emergency.
Additionally, the now long-standing debate on the reception reimbursement helped to make things even more difficult, along with the disputed change from 80 to 35 euros, the impending expiry of the management contract – then extended until 31 January to favor of the Cooperativa Luoghi Comuni – and the exasperation of the operators, who were left without pay for six months. Some of them just claimed the poor condition of the structure. This important testimony was unfortunately not available for all the previous months. The current situation is certainly not only due to the recent management but also to the structural organization of the so-called reception in the past year.
One wonders why just a few months ago nobody decided to speak about
around fifty minors forced to stay in the CPSA for over ten days, or even why nobody has ever denounced the presence of young Egyptians in September, in the CPSA, who could be easily spotted from the street, when the center was officially closed and waiting for an extension of the concession.
The fear that an interest for migrants’ fundamental rights is shown only when one’s own and sacred rights – such as having a salary – are at stake, casts a long shadow on the possibility of building a bond of solidarity and mutual trust, which could bring about a better society and active societal participation.
Indeed once the doors of the center were closed, the interest of the media for the situation of the transferred migrants has become very little. We know that minors were sent to the center Mediterranean Hope in Scicli. They arrived in very poor conditions neither with a change of underwear and clothing, nor with an idea of what to expect in Italy. Luckily, they found a welcoming environment, available operators motivated to provide for their basic needs but also for their integration in the territory, and above all for an adequate legal assistance.
In the meantime, another news of the ongoing investigation by the financial police comes in, during a climate of anxiety spread by the investigation of “Mafia Capitale” .
Extensions, delays, closures and investigations: media narratives are synchronized with the rhythm of twists and turns. The spotlights follow only the exceptional nature of events, which promote fear and justification of the never-ending state of emergency. At the same time the stories of migrants seem to be already forgotten.

Lucia Borghi
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translated by Alessandra Mancini

*CSPA – Centro di Soccorso e prima Accoglienza: Primary care and initial reception centre