16 July 2012
New boat arrival at Pozzallo: 66 migrants arriving from Lybia
from the Corriere di Ragusa by Calogero Castaldo
It was carried out in the same way, using the same route, the same type of transport and the same port of departure. The migrants were even rescued and taken to a Maltese medical centre. The arrival yesterday morning for the port authorities of Pozzallo and Gela had many similarities with an arrival which took place only a few days ago. In the night between Wednesday and Thursday, 40 migrants had arrived in the Province of Ragusa. One arrival was the “photocopy” of the other. The police at the headquarters in Ragusa are currently investigating the incidents and there can be no doubt of their similarities.
66 passengers departed from the “usual” Lybian port. It took three days to reach Maltese waters. The Military Coast Guard of the island of Cavalieri approached the dinghy to check that all of the 66 Africans aboard were in good health and to negotiate bringing them into the nearest port. Six people were transferred to the “Mater Dei” in Valetta for treatment. The rest insisted with force until their journey was able to continue in the direction of Sicily. This is exactly what happened a few days ago, when the Maltese Military Coast Guard didn’t oppose the request of the 40 migrants to continue their journey. The six people who were transferred to the “Mater Dei” had literally been “burned” by three days under the sun. They are expected to be released in a couple of days.
The sixty “survivors” decided to continue. The last thing left for the Maltese Coast Guard to do was notify their Italian “colleagues” that a dinghy, which was in a bad condition, was about to arrive in Sicily. At around 5 o’clock in the morning, the Italian Coast Guard’s central operating office received the information from the Maltese Coast Guard that they had accompanied a green dinghy which was about 10 metres in length up to the borders with the Italian waters. There were about 60 people aboard who were declaring to be Somalis. Two Italian patrol boats were sent out and met the Maltese vessel at around 6pm. By 7pm, the immigrants had arrived in the port of Pozzallo. All were reported to be in good health, although some were suffering from the excess heat and the sultry weather of the past few days. The 60 migrants, nevertheless, had prepared for the journey by taking lots of bottles of water with them, well aware of the fact that Caronte and Minosse would not allow those aboard the boat to breathe.
The port’s doctor, Vincenzo Morello, calmed the situation down by saying that the immigrants could come ashore as none were suffering from particular diseases. It seems as if the crossing for the 60 migrants was around €1,500, but figures up to €5,000 have also been mentioned. What is sure is that the summer of 2012 has begun with the continual reshipment of people from another continent. The island of Malta is acting as a third party interlocutor, whether it wants to or not. “As long as there is synergy with the Maltese,” said the Pozzallo Port Authorities, “it is unlikely that the speedboats will sink or lives will be lost.”
When the migrants arrived in Sicily, there were transferred to a structure in Porto Palo (Province of Syracuse) where they were given food and then questioned over who had been in charge of the boat. Those responsible are expected to be amongst the group. The police are investigating the many similarities between the two arrivals which occurred within days of each other.
The migrants, who were first of all taken to Pozzallo, were then transferred on to Porto Palo due to the interjection of the Ministry of the Interior who maintained that the Ragusa reception centre was not adequate. Fifteen migrants still remain in the Pozzallo sports centre after 25 immigrants were transferred to the CIE (Immigrant Detention Centre) in Caltanissetta.