The Great Frontier Within Our Cities

There is a
border we have built which is larger than any of the walls being
raised up throughout the whole world, a frontier which is born from
within ourselves and the culture from which we are all nourished even
as children, a frontier which is created by our egoism and comfort, a
frontier which kills people even before the sea does. It is a
frontier which behaves as if exploitation, death and discrimination
were simply daily “sport”. It is a frontier which divides rich
and poor within our cities and neighbourhoods. It is a frontier which
we raise up so that we can live well, so as not to raise our glances
over the wall which we have built for ourselves.

[Image: The Cemetery at Agrigento. Photo: Alberto Biondo]

This is
the only way one can explain how a young Eritrean woman of 17 years,
in search of her future, can die after being hit by a truck in a
tunnel, and the homeless people left to die on the street to the
total indifference of a city such as Palermo, which believes itself
to be welcoming and immune to racism and discrimination.

These are
only the latest deathly episodes from the frontier. And the
statistics on lives drowned in the Canal of Sicily are again no
matter of opinion: for every 42 people who arrive, one dies; on
average, 11 children die every day. Every hour which passes comprises
a crime of indifference, of complicity in this massacre, in violation
of international law and with total disrespect for human rights.
People become numbers in our cemeteries, people who die in absolute
anonymity, to the indifference of a society which has even become
used to seeing tombs with neither names nor faces. They are nobody’s
dead, they are the dead we do not want to acknowledge.

[Image: Migrants’ tombs in the cemetery at Favara. Photo: Alberto Biondo]

is the explanation for the creation of a European border police, an increase in funding
for Frontex,
and further bilateral agreements
with blood soaked dictators in the pay of our multinationals. Or how
at the port of Lampedusa, despite the constant flow of new arrivals,
there are no portaloos and the migrants waiting for the transfer
coaches have to relieve themselves behind the rocks. Or how 54
minors, already exhausted by the struggle they had waged and won
against the deathly sea, were forced to spend the night on the bare
ground in the courtyard of Palermo’s immigration office.

is the only way one can decide to save a few million Euros by
organising interminable landing operations
lasting 36 or 42 hours throughout Sicilian ports
or rejecting minors’ asylum requests based only on the fact that they
recently turned 18.

A frontier is a physical wall which blocks a passage, but it is also
a juridical wall which makes people live invisibly and removes their
dignity. We must break down these frontiers, so as to restore freedom
to so many men and women across the world who, in their search for
protection, risk death at sea or in our cities.

Alberto Biondo

Borderline Sicilia

“OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline
Sicilia Onlus

Translation: Richard Braude