10 May 2018
Newsletter BORDERLINESICILIA – March/April 2018
- The Open Arms: solidarity campaigns and release
- The realisation of border control policies
- Inefficiency in the reception system: intruders and the excluded
- Rights increasingly violated while reactions are always less
- Events: Conversation on migrants’ issues (projec EACEA BsM)
THE OPEN ARMS: SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGNS AND RELEASE
Over the course of April there was a sustained campaign of solidarity with the Proactiva Open Arms, the vessel seized on March 18th at the port of Pozzallo. According to the accusations, the Spanish NGO is meant to have been guilty of criminal association with the aim of aiding illegal immigration, in relation to supposedly bringing 218 migrants into Italy againt the orders of the Italian Coast Guard, which had passed the order instead to the Libyan Coast Guard, thus condemning the rescued migrants to return to the place of torture from which they had only just managed to escape. When the first accusation directed by the public prosecutor in Catania fell, the competence passed over to the Justice of the Peace in Ragusa. On April 16th, he ordered the release of the ship, recognising the humanitarian reasons underlying the Open Arms’ decision. The declaration represents an important confermation of the fact that Libya cannot be considered a port of safety.
THE REALISATION OF BORDER CONTROL POLICIES
On 24 April, 94 migrants were landed in Messina. The dynamics with which the Dutch NGO ‘Sea Watch’ carried out the rescue operation – ordered to not save the migrants but instead to await the arrival of the Libyan Coast Guard – represent the latest hidden attempt by Italy to block the arrivals by sea through push-backs delefated to Tripoli’s maritime forces. The consequent situation generated desparate acts by some of the migrants who, upon seeing the approaching Libyans, threw themselves in the water in order to not be returned to the country where they had been tortured for months. They were then saved by the crew of the NGO. These illegal attempts at indirect push-bacls are part of a politics of border control carried out over the last few years, which has also been realised in the arrests of the “forced boat drivers” who, instead of being protected as victims of trafficking, have become the scapegoats for a system that uses their criminalisation to provide public opinion with the sense that something is being done to stop both the human traffickers and the arrivals more generally.
INEFFICIENCY IN THE RECEPTION SYSTEM: INTRUDERS AND THE EXCLUDED
Sicilian police stations, refusing to accept that particular status for leave to remain in Italy is a pre-requisite for personal registration with the local council, consider instead that a local residency document is the basis for issuing or renewing a permit to stay. This makes the obtaining of documents extremely difficult for people outside of the official hostel system. The result of these illegitimate practices is an increase in the number of invisible people living in shanty towns, excluded from public services and stuck in a limbo of indefinite waiting. On the other hand, paradoxically, there is someone who – even while in need of service provision, but not those provided by the reception system – has been included in the centres thanks to bonds of friendship: a well-known Palermitan politicians, profitting from his position of power, has installed his elderly father in a centre for unaccompanied foreign minors.
RIGHTS INCREASINGLY VIOLATED WHILE REACTIONS ARE ALWAYS LESS
With the protests and arson at the Lampedusa hotspot we have seen the latest episode in which men, women and children – after having lived through the traumatic events on the other side of the Mediterraneans – are dtained in situations without appropriate division by age and gender, and in which they are frequently victims of violent acts. Their voices are silences and their rights ignored by a growing culture of violence perpetrared by institutions, damaging the very people they are meant to protect. All of this is taking place in the face of a culpable inertia on the part of a society by now accustomed to injustice
EVENTI: CONVERSATION ON MIGRANTS’ ISSUES, PROJECT EACEA BsM
On 6 March 2018, Palermo saw the first meeting organised by Borderline Sicilia in the remit og the EACEA project “Brücken statt Mauern – over borders”. The meeting brought together students of the MA in International Social Work with Refugees and Migrants at the University of Wurzburg in Germany with students from last year’s BA in Social Services at the University of Palermo. The students debated various critical issues relating to the management of the reception system and the international political situation.
INFORMATION AND CONTACTS
For information on how to donate to Borderline Sicilia Onlus – Banca Etica Popolare di Palermo Agenzia di Via Catania, 24 IBAN IT 28 Q 0501804600000000141148 Codice BIC CCRTIT2T84A – and for updates on the current situation of migration in Sicily see the blog:
www.siciliamigranti.blogspot.com or follow our Facebook page:
www.siciliamigranti.blogspot.com → In Italian
www.siciliamigrants.blogspot.com → In German
www.migrantsicily.blogspot.com → In English
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Translation by Richard Braude