The migrant hunt is open

Faruk, a young
migrant from an African country rich of diamond mines, gets off the train with
sad and empty eyes full of fear, together with other two friends he met on his
journey. Notwithstanding his young age, Faruk has gone through a lot: A mother
who was killed in his country, a younger brother who did not survive the desert
and the violence of military people trained by European military, a father,
destroyed by the pain of losing first his wife and then his little son, who
vanished at sea.

Faruk tells us
this story and cries, his tears do not stop for a good half an hour in which
the silence is sovereign. Faruk has been played in Lampedusa because he has
been considered an economic migrant. Faruk did not have the possibility to ask
for asylum, because the Italian authorities in the only working hotspot do not
give everybody the possibility to request international protection, and they do
it in a discretional and shameful way. Faruk does not want to talk any more or
to trust people, because with 24 years of age he already encountered death too
many times – and this encounter left indelible traces and, as it is often said,
the eyes are the mirrors of the soul and Faruk’s soul is really extinguished!

We accompany
Faruk and his friends to have something to eat, offering him the opportunity to
sleep under a roof – but that rejection he was handed over in Agrigento took
away from him also the last opportunity to have a life. Faruk does not want the
help of a lawyer because Italians are “mean and overbearing” and he decides to
keep his rejection in the pocket and go to other places. Before saying goodbye,
Faruk asks us to pray for his family and in particular for his little brother,
showing us a photograph he keeps with extreme care.

The three
youngsters who have been intercepted at the station are part of the army of
desperate persons that has been created by the prefecture of Agrigento by
fulfilling the indications received by the Ministry of Interior under European
pressure – the result is that in Agrigento they continue to reject also
Ethiopians and Somalis and even unaccompanied minors. The situation is becoming
increasingly severe and, notwithstanding the pressure of multiple parties, the
institutions in Agrigento behave like outlaws:
A free port that has been handed over to fortress Europe, where
practices that violate the dignity of people are systematically put into place.

At the hotspot of
Lampedusa, where recently there were up to 1.200 people forced to sleep in the
open as the maximum capacity of the facility is 400 places, those who refused
to give their fingerprints are actually abandoned at the facility of Contrada
Imbricola, waiting until they “give in”. According to those who have been hold
back at the island’s facility, who refuses to give their fingerprints are
forced to watch the operations of transferring those migrants who have already
been identified, and hence they are derided for their decision of not allowing
to be identified.

On the contrary,
people who are from countries that have bilateral agreements with Italy (such
as Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria) can be immediately transferred to a C.I.E* and
from there they are repatriated; of course they are not always guaranteed the
possibility to access the procedure of requesting international protection. The
absence of right on Lampedusa is creating problems also to those who may wish
to be reunited with family members already living on European soil, considering
that many of these persons are rejected because not adequately informed about
that opportunity.

And it seems as
there is no end to violence, since on the island there are practices of
psychological oppression put into place that aim at demolishing people, as
happened to an Iraqi family of 8 persons (among which three women – a very ill
elderly lady and two minors) who could have been reunited to a family member
living in Switzerland, but they all refused to give their fingerprints because
they received the news that Switzerland does not apply the procedure of re-distribution.
This family has been kept at the hotspot of Lampedusa for almost a month, from
November 5 to December 10, without that anyone examined their situation. These persons
have allegedly been seriously insulted by a “sheriff” official and “invited” to
go back from where they came from. When they gave in, they were immediately
transferred to another Italian facility.

Various persons
told us that inside the hotspot they did not receive any legal information
concerning the possibility to access some form of protection, neither did they
have the possibility to express their will to request asylum. Nigerians, after they
declared their country of origin, were asked to sign a document of which they
did not know the content, and without releasing them a copy of it. Of course,
for all of them a notification of their refoulment was the result of it. Other
migrants further told us that some persons are led by the police to indicate
who was piloting the boat on which they travelled, promising them a permit of

This behavior of
closure causes incidents that the authorities scientifically want to happen: For
example on Lampedusa, where – after having been on hunger strike for days because
they did not want to have their fingerprints taken and were asking to be able
to go to another country of their choice (and not according to the availability
of re-distribution shares) – about 200 Eritreans – went to the streets on
Friday demonstrating their wish for freedom; they feel like prisoners of an
impregnable fortress, they feel sacrificed victims of a system without pity
that results into victims every day (
and that no newspaper or tv remembers any more; of course some inhabitants of
Lampedusa start to repeat that it would end like in September 2015, with the “migrant
hunt”. People are tiered of false promises and of watching so many young,
extremely young persons die from within – put onto the street with such ease in
front of the legitimate and actual request of some humanity.

As it happened
yesterday in Trapani, where 48 migrants demonstrated for the unwanted transfer which,
they say, might result in a further slowdown of the infinite procedure of
requesting asylum. (

In this favorable
atmosphere, xenophobic, racist and fascist sentiments restart to mobilize; they
have no hindrance (thanks to national and European politics): In Palermo some
people distribute flyers asking for not opening new facilities for migrants,
moved by the fear to see the territory ruined; in Alcamo a man runs over two
unaccompanied minors hosted by a specialized reception centre who were
protesting against the unacceptable bureaucratic delays of the public
administration; in Caltanissetta the police is able to hinder the lynching of
migrants because one of them, according to a local, had harassed a girl; in
Agrigento people complain for the strong presence of migrants at the train
station (;
in other smaller cities migrants can’t get out of reception centres because
they are insulted by people passing by.

All this is
wanted by the State, which has found its scapegoat and is presenting it to all
people of any social class for keeping away attention from what it is doing, or
actually not doing, thus creating an ever-increasing poverty and disseminating
hatred among the population.

We hope to be
wrong, but meanwhile Faruk is on a train that escapes from the word “end” that
we set on his heels!

Alberto Biondo

Sicilia Onlus

Chiara Guccione

*CIE – Centro di
Identificazione ed Espulsione: detention centre