The deceit of the state asylum system in Enna

During the visits which have been made since March 2015 to the extraordinary reception centres in the province of Enna, we always had difficulties to understand how the contracts for institutions through a public tender in the reception system for asylum seekers in the province were awarded.

In fact, all the operators which we have met during the visits to the extraordinary reception centres, reported that they are working on the basis of a contract award process directly negotiated with the prefecture while still waiting for the official tender award.
The concerned official tender was published in December 2014 and relates to the period from 1 July to 31 December 2015. It expired two months ago without ever being used. As far as we were informed by the operators, the reason for this delay in the processing time was probably due to the fact that initially the appropriateness of reception structures must be checked that have already been included in the shortlist of candidates for the tender. After 14 months, however, one could say that the admirable care of the regional offices of the government in Enna quite possibly lead to an exaggerated zeal as it involves merely 11 centres.
To this date, the recording system of this province is based on an old convention from 2014 that has been extended. Meanwhile, in all the structures that we could visit, a number of residents can be registered which is below the actual capacity of the structures.
Meanwhile, some municipalities in the province are affected by worrying mobilisations of civic associations, which are directed against the stay of migrants in the cities.
Especially in Piazza Armerina citizens are protesting for some time. They are against welcoming migrants in a residential area where 80 migrants, who are part of the tender, were planned to be relocated by the tender. The latest protest was in January.
As already known, shared housing with many people in a single building, especially in smaller urban areas, complicates the integration and the social inclusion of migrants. On the contrary, if such kind of inclusion is not accompanied by information activities, involvement and awareness of the citizens, this may most likely stir up unrest and resentment among citizens instead. So, the resistance of the citizens in Piazza Armerina can be understood on the one hand, it appears to be very worrying on the other hand due to the xenophobic voices that come with the protests and attitudes of some more and more frequently.
Regarding the situation of the reception in the province of Enna, it is important to keep in mind the serious inconvenience due to the long waiting times for the hearing before the regional Commission meaning that many asylum seekers in this province have been waiting for up to 18 months. The majority of them were moved here after having to spend several months in other reception centres in the Sicilian provinces. This lead to even longer waiting times because the responsibility of the Regional Commission changed. And also because the Commission of Enna – Section Catania – came into force in March 2015 and but only began to take action in May.
This discrimination has recently been even worse because the work of this commission seems to be marked by a very high number of rejections of applications for protection. This does not happen on the basis of individual life stories but on the basis of general arguments and prejudices against the country of origin of the applicants. This procedure is similar to that of many other regional commissions. Their entitlement to reject international applications for protection is ignored by the district courts in many cases.

Giovanna Vaccaro
Borderline Sicilia

translated by Aylin Satmaz