Triton alone cannot afford to save lives

Redattore Sociale – “The prompt rescue of refugees at sea can be crucial for saving the lifes of many of them who opt for departure to Italy across the sea even in adverse sea conditions and in too cold temperatures”, says the activist of Borderline Sicilia Judith Gleitze emphatically who has always been committed to support the refugees who find a shelter in the Italian centres.

“The operation Triton (Frontex) cannot alone provide assistance for the refugees shipwrecked at sea”, she adds. “The ships of Triton, which must not move more than 30 nautical miles south of Lampedusa, leave the rescue mission to the few ships of the Italian Coast Guard. Unfortunately, what has been said from several parties about the operation has been proven true. In this way, we support the death of the refugees, “she adds. “It seems that the hands of the Italian Navy are tied and it is not possible to leave everything to the small vessels of the Coast Guard. They do what they can as soon as they have received the message. The whole system obviously must be scrutinised.“

One of the activists from the blog Sicilia Migranti who has always been devoted to constantly check the state of the extraordinary reception centres in Sicily together with his volunteers, criticises again the system of reception. “Even though it looks like a slowdown in arrivals of refugees on our shores, the recording system of CAS – extraordinary reception centres – remained the same with the same structural problems as always. It is difficult to draw a picture of all CAS’s on the island many of which are still filled with migrants.” “The CAS, some larger, some smaller, must be managed according to the required standards,” he emphasizes. “Unfortunately, we know that this is not so true for many of them because they are seen as sources of profit. They are far from the quality criteria which are provided by law such as the cultural mediation and legal assistance.”

One only talks about the CAS when there are protests of migrants. After a recent protest in the centre Madonnina di Nicolosi in the province of Catania, 20 migrants have requested a transfer to a SPRAR*. The Vice-Prefect has personally bothered to check the conditions in the facility and then decided to move the group in the CARA* of Mineo.

No one speaks about the hidden and secluded “new” reception centre of Rosolini in the province of Syracuse where asylum seekers await to start with the procedure [of the asylum procedure, editor’s note] since August. “To reach the CAS of Rosolini is not easy,” writes a staff member of Borderline Sicilia, “at least if one is not from the area.” Once, after having left the place behind and just before you go on the winding road that leads to the nearby caves, the only way to find the facility is to ask passers-by where the ex-Disco Picadilly is, which has recently become a shelter for migrants. An imposing building that was never completed and was formerly considered to be a disco and hall for receptions. It is located on a gravel road between the few buildings in front of the caves that exist around.

In Agrigento, the CAS Siciliana is also full while there are only 38 migrants left in the CAS of the centre of San Carlo and Santa Rosalia Caritas in Palermo; another 21 are in other strictly ecclesiastical reception centres.

We want to add a comment to the article that the rescue at sea is essential to save lives; but this is not enough. As long as the European policies and legislations on immigration and asylum are not radically changed, people will continue to die at sea and on other borders.

SPRAR: protection facilities for asylum seekers and refugees

CARA: Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers

Translation: Aylin Satmaz