4 November 2016

Hard to Accommodate: Agrigento

Looking over the most recent data, it seems that the practice of
handing out rejections is once again in fashion at the Sicilian
police stations. Last week there were rejections of 26 Moroccans and
3 Algerians in Agrigento, having arrived at Porto Empedocle on the
ferry from Lampedusa. Along with them there was a Tunisian who was
arrested as a “suspected boat driver”. On the ship connecting the
Pelagian islands and Sicily there were also around 20 foreign
unaccompanied minors, who will have joined the veritable army of
minors hosted by the vast numbers of housing communities in the
Province of Agrigento, even claiming a record for the number of
centres of ‘first reception’ for minors, opened as usual in a
situation of emergency.

The ‘Centres of First Reception’ (CPA*) can hold around 50-60 minors,
whose complaints regarding the lack of services are frequently
responded to by the managing bodies with threats of various kinds.
Bullying has become the norm. For instance – according to many
former residents – being flagged up to the police as potentially
being overage, and then being certified as so based exclusively on a
wrist X-ray, contrary to the new guidelines contained in the law on
unaccompanied foreign minors which has recently been approved. As if
by magic, whoever protests and complains becomes an adult.

Due to the chronic lack of places in the Extraordinary Reception
Centres (CAS*) for adults, or because many of the centres for minors
are “at risk” due to continued protests, the new adults are then
left out of the system and their only alternative is the street. Some
of the new adults have been transferred to the Hub at Villa Sikania,
where they remain “parked” for months along with around 200
Eritreans who have applied for relocation, those at least who have
still not decided to abandon the structure due to the infinite wait.

On
October 29th
at around 5.30pm, the navy vessel Borsini
docked in at Porto Empedocle and around 223 people were landed, along
with 3 bodies recovered from the sea. On land the Red
Cross

and other humanitarian organisations were waiting, including
Emergency
and Save
the Children
.
And, of course, the police.

The
migrants were half-naked and barefoot, some of them wearing back
binbags. Some of them were given emergency
blankets and jumpers.
Under the Red
Cross

gazebo, they were given basic necessities. In the end they
boarded
the waiting coaches. The women and children were landed first. Among
them there was a baby of only 34 days. For at least two women it was
necessary to take them in an ambulance to the hospital. Then the men
came, the majority from Subsaharan Africa, and many of them very
young. One of them too was taken away in an ambulance. A doctor noted
that, in comparison with previous landings, “these ones seem much
more tired and tested”. At sunset the mortician
boarded the Borsini
to recover the three
bodies.

Following
this, as well as the landing of October 26th
(200 people on the navy vessel Chimera),
the living conditions at Villa Sikania are now similar to those of
the Lampedusa Hotspot: an overcrowded centre of 600-700 people, some
stuck in an eternal wait for the relocation progam, others for
transferral to a ‘second reception’ centre, transferrals which are
also far too frequently extremely late to arrive.

Alberto Todaro

Borderline Sicilia

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

*CPA
= Centro di Prima Accoglienza (Centre of First Reception)

*CAS
= Centro di Accoglienza Straordinario (Extraordinary Reception
Centre)

Translation
by Richard Braude

Print Friendly, PDF & Email