19 November 2018

A Lack of Respect for Humanity

How many times have we heard our grandparents, or our elders more generally, say “there’s no respect any more.” Whether on the street, at school or at home one feels and sees a shift in values, and it is within this that a certain politics has established itself, a politics almost entirely deprived of humanity and respect for the other.

What is worrying is not so much the shameless tweets typed by this or that Minister, but the deafening silence on behalf of a society that should not allow or accept this war that is being waged against the weakest, the poorest, the most marginalised. Even the Catholic world, which ought to react powerfully against everything that’s happening, is limiting itself to marking “the day of poverty” with mere rhetoric and sterility, without doing anything to eliminate poverty itself.

Last week saw the farcical Libyan summit in Palermo, as disaster for both the Libyan people and poor people more generally. The day after the summit the massacres continues, murder in all but name: 20 people in Cadice in Spain, which has now become the most-used route to reach Europe; 2 dead in Sardinia as well as 8 missing; 14 probable deaths in Val di Sisa, where migrants were simply trying to find a better life and were lost in the snow on the moutains. And still more: 81 people terrorised and barricaded on a cargo ship off Libya, ready to die tather than be taken back to the hell from whcih they had escaped.

The destiny of the migrants who arrived in Malta and then Lampedusa is still unknown, other than Malta apparently gave them life jackets and fuel. People are hidden from the local associations who want to understand the truth about what is happening, but also have to keep silent – the same silence kept by the media and the authorities about the daily arrivals on Lampedusa and the destiny and detention of those arriving.

It is a war. These are victims of a war, victims of the forgetting of humanity, of a humanity that has sold itself to power, in a world were words count more than actions. The bill for this war cannot take account of all of the issues that our country is living through. It would be enough to simply analyse the reports on the monitoring of forced depotations, written by the National Guarantor for the Rights of Detain Persons, and the Annual Report from the SPRAR (the Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) in order to undertand that we are choked by the clouds of propaganda and light years’ away from the real nature of things.

The Prefectures in Sicily have begun to cancel the procedures for tendering contracts for new asylum seeker hostels, awaiting the sending of new regulations on relations with the managing bodies of the reception centres according to new guidelines that foresee important changes on the technical requierements and the handling of bids – including new budget rationalisations. At the same time, the FAMI-funded centres for unaccompanied minors have received a Ministerial note communicating that the projects are to be halved from the beginning of Novembre without further warning.

This represents a continuing dismantaling of the nevertheless impoverished, malfunctioning reception system, the effects of which we are seeing in the countryside, where abandoned farm shacks are increasingly occupied. The introduction of the security decree will be manna from heaven for the Mafia markets of fake residence focuments and fake work contracts – and the number of irregular persons will climb. Just as was the case with the amnesty-scam in 2012 – a nice big gift for crooked business.

Despite the difficulties, we will continue our monitoring work, we will continue to meet people on the street and we will always be ready to critically report, and to give a platform to the victims of this system. We do not need live TV channels to cuddle a small black child or hug a poor person, we do not need charity. As Galeano wrote: “Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person.” A good reminder of that which we have lost.

Alberto Biondo
Borderline Sicilia


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

Translation by Richard Braude

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