“We are treated worse than pigs here. We can’t cope anymore,” a young migrant locked up in the Milo CIE (Immigration Detention Centre) in the Trapani countryside denounces the Centre. For the last three days, 240 migrants, the majority from the Maghreb Region, have been carrying out a thirst, hunger and medicine strike as a means of defending their dignity. “Here we are only animals. They put 12 of us in cells which are meant for 6. Some of us have to sleep on the floor.” And it would also seem, according to the account of the migrant, that some also eat on the dirty floors. The situation he describes is alarming, “Here inside there are epileptics, diabetics and people with mental health problems. How can they be kept in such conditions? We are people.”
Heavy criticism is also aimed at the forces of order, “They have beaten us with batons on many occasions when they have been escape attempts. Sometimes people have even ended up in hospital with fractured bones.”There is nothing new about such episodes at the Milo CIE. It opened last summer and is currently managed by the consortium Connecting People although the management will soon pass over the Oasi di Siracusa consortium. This block of concrete enclosed by yellow fencing, seems to be a black spot where human dignity ends. They have been many cases of self-harming and suicide attempts.
Even with determination, every minute seems an eternity. Everyday wears you down. There are those who have swallowed razor blades, those who have cut their wrists and those who have put a noose around their neck -in such situations it is the fellow detainees who save them.A few days ago, a mass escape was attempted. Some succeeded but others had to return to the inferno and life becomes worse than before. According to reports collected by the publication Redattore Sociale, “Sixty- eight managed to escape. After the break out, those who were recaptured sat on the floor for two to three hours during the night, crying and shouting.”The story which the young man tells us is one of blood and fear, dignity and distress. “There are some people who have been here for over nine months, who haven’t done anything. We have no idea what the future holds for us. We don’t know what’s going to happen, where we will go. The only thing we know is that we don’t want to live in these conditions.”The conditions which emerge from the young man’s account are those of an infernal, inhumane life. There are no rules and no respect for human dignity. “We have nothing. There is no air- conditioning, the televisions are broken, we get given a bottle of shampoo once every two months. There is no hygiene.”The conditions seem to be worse than a prison. Yet we are talking about Milo, where people who have done nothing wrong are kept like battery chickens, dirty and without freedom. All they did was cross the Italian border and have some administrative problems with their permit of stay.”Help us. We are people. Don’t forget this,” he shouts before having to go and be body-searched by the police. Tomorrow, some legal representatives should be going to the Centre to certify the living conditions of the migrants and to listen to their reasons for carrying out the hunger strike, which is now already in its third day.This afternoon a delegation from the Prefecture of Trapani also arrived at the Centre to try and understand what has been going on.Giorgio Ruta “Il Cladestino”