They are being taken for a ride – Part 1

The time has come for us to be much clearer with the words
we choose to put down on the page, on blogs, on social networks. We always
maintain that there is a massacre taking place, the cross hairs placed on those
migrants travelling by sea, on those who are searching desperately for a moment
of peace in their proper
life, on those who want to provide their children with a better future.

photo Elisa Romanato

In the last few days the motion of this daily massacre –
which runs from war-zones and tracks across the desert, across the hell of
Libya and a sea glutted with corpses, and finally into our own country – has
gone into tailspin. And once again deliberately, we believe. For one cannot
believe otherwise, given that it seems impossible for a modern civil country,
full of experts, which runs training courses on migration and on intercultural
relations all year round, is unable to set up a serious long term programme.
There must be some kind of concealed plan which contemplates the thousands and
thousands of dead, who accepts that women and children are raped and murdered,
that sells arms and creates instability in their countries of origin, that
causes famine, and steals land and resources. All this in the name of what? Of
a secure future for European countries.

photo Elisa Romanato

Yes, they
are being taken for a ride when they talk about emergencies, task forces and accommodation centres. Because it is not
possible, in a modern country, that people could forget what has happened in
the previous years; it simply isn’t possible that no one has asked that
intervention to save lives take priority over cost-cutting and dishing out jobs
to family and friends.

Probably we are not living in a civilized country, in a civilised system.
Instead we live under the rule of the strongest and most cunning, and power can
carry on for years, running along the roads of ’emergency’, at least until a
magistrate puts his head above water and starts to discover the mess, the
bribes, the political pressure – and it goes on like that for years, probably
until the point beyond which no legal case can be taken!

And who pays for all this? In the business of ‘admission’, obviously
the real price is paid by the African and Asian migrants, maybe even by teenagers
and pregnant women.

photo Elisa Romanato

And so it was that Francesca Cannizzo, the Prefect of Palermo, on the occasion of yesterday’s arrival of 1,200 people, was clearly satisfied with the organizational machine she put into action, along with the mayor, Leoluca Orlando, and the aide to social activities, Agnese Ciulla.

This was the first landing of the year in Palermo, but none
of the institutional actors have been able to put in place a welcoming plan
worthy of the name. They instead repeated the same procedure as before:
emergency meetings, task forces, and requests for assistance and volunteers
(the only people who show a healthy interest in human life), still treated as a
lifeline for this system, one which unwittingly legitimises a concealed plan.
And again we have seen the reopening of crumbling buildings, the setting up of
tent cities and the filling up of gyms.

Once again Caritas is dragged into the game, under the
direction of Father Sergio Mattaliano, for the second year running, putting a
plaster on a wounded system – certainly with the best of intentions, but
without being able to respond to people’s needs, and without professional

This is a game which creates emergencies, inefficiencies and
short circuits, and which allows the sharks to circle, without even a hint of
conscience or competence, enter into the ‘game’, to be entrusted by the
prefecture with 100, 200, 500 migrants – or even worse, unaccompanied minors
– too often treated as butcher’s meat
for the local news when, in a few months’ time, they will be depicted as the
instigators of violent protests simply for denouncing the lack of essential

photo Elisa Romanato

But let’s go back to the landing of the 1,200 migrants in
Palermo, among which were some unaccompanied minors and around 10 pregnant
women. The landing began at around 2am last night and ended at 9am, with an
enormous stress on the workers, uninterrupted running up and down by the
volunteers from Caritas, who offered hot tea, blankets and shoes to the
migrants, and with doctors from ASP always ready at hand when needed.
Afterwards people were divided up among the improvised centres, places not well
adapted and for the most part inadequate.

Once again it was verified that hundreds of migrants have
been walking around the city centre, or have been been dispersed in the suburbs
either by mistake or because they were placed in buildings far away from the
city centre: a mass exodus against their future in Italy, formed out of
psychological violence and abuse, destroying hopes and erasing dreams. And waiting
for them on the other side will be the usual people traffickers to take them
further north, people without scruples who wallow in the mud of emergency.

Unfortunately, these scenes are repeated because the
institutions did not set up a proper plan for admission, search for adequate
buildings, nor train staff, etc. And what’s happened in Palermo has also
happened in Ragusa, Porto Empedocle, Catania and Trapani, to which another 9
corpses were taken, people who died at sea. In the past days 8,480 migrants
have arrived, mainly from Syria and the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, picked
up by Coast Guard boats, the Guardia di Finanza (Italian finance police), by
ships responding to private calls for help (5 merchant vessels and 2 tugboats),
by a Frontex boat and a Maltese ship, as well as Coast Guard aircraft. Yes, we
saved them for a moment, but then we began once again to take them for a ride,
and to make them slaves to our needs.

Alberto Biondo
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation: Richard Braude